Google on Thursday will unveil near field communication (NFC) technology to allow mobile payments on smartphones from Sprint, reports said Tuesday.
Google officials could not be reached to confirm the report, first carried by Bloomberg. A Sprint official said the carrier does "not comment on rumors and speculation."
The Android phones will use NFC short-range wireless technology to allow contactless payments at NFC receiver terminals in stores and transit stops, according to the reports.
Google's interest is in mobile advertising, and the NFC technology would support mobile coupons for goods and services.
A Sprint spokeswoman confirmed in April that Sprint would enable NFC technology with other unnamed companies. The Sprint approach would allow mobile payments to be billed to a user's credit card. Sprint would generate revenue by selling targeted ads and coupons, she said at the time.
Separately, Google in March was reported to be working with MasterCard and Citigroup to add NFC capabilities to Android phones.
Some analysts had said then that Sprint was working with other carriers to rollout NFC technology for mobile payments. Reports that Sprint is working with Google could mean Sprint's role in NFC is decidedly speeding up.
The other three major U.S. carriers -- Verizon Wireless, AT&T and T-Mobile USA -- are working on a joint project called Isis.
The group plans to roll out an NFC pilot in Salt Lake City in 2012.
Most significantly in the realm of mobile payments, Visa and 14 banks on May 11 announced plans to launch a digital wallet system this fall in the U.S. and Canada using NFC in smartphones and tablets.
Analysts said then that Visa's approach was the most comprehensive digital payment and NFC system announced for the U.S.
Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen, or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed . His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.