Microsoft plans to include mobile-payment technology in new versions of its operating system for smartphones as part of an effort to narrow Google Inc.’s lead in handset software, said the people, who asked to remain anonymous because the features aren’t public. The first devices boasting these features may be released this year, the people said.
The company joins a growing list of software providers aiming to benefit from rising demand for ways to purchase products and services on the go. Mobile payments may be used in $245 billion in transactions in 2014, up from $32 billion in 2010, according to Gartner Inc. Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer is under pressure to regain mobile-software market share lost to Apple Inc., maker of the iPhone, and Google’s Android.
The phones running Microsoft’s new software will be based on so-called Near Field Communication, which lets devices communicate wirelessly with objects immediately nearby. NFC technology enables payments and also lets consumers use a handset for other tasks, such as redeeming coupons and loyalty points at local merchants.