Several outlets are reporting, based on screenshots posted by Android Police
that Google is (or "may be" — CNet calls the report "loosely sourced"
) about to introduce a lower-tech variant
on its smartphone-based Google Wallet
payment system. Instead of transferring payment information from an NFC-equipped phone, this would mean a physical payment card (like a conventional plastic credit or debit card), but one linked via Google's databanks to the user's existing bank or credit accounts. Upsides: less to carry, a simple way to suspend or cancel service on them (should the card be lost or stolen), and doesn't require you to carry your phone to make a credit or debit transaction — handy, since NFC readers are still thin on the ground. Downside: while perhaps no worse than putting the same information on your phone, it's one more step toward giving a third party all of your personal information in one place. A card that fits in a wallet probably makes a lot of sense: I live in a city with at least three pay-by-phone options in trials or fully available (CitiBank, Isis, and Google Wallet), but I can't buy ice cream or coffee with them yet. And there's no reason a card-shaped token couldn't use mag-stripes and NFC, too.