Google is testing a new mobile payment system called “Plaso”, which is intended to replace the NFC technology used by ApplePay with Bluetooth, according to The Information. Rumour in the media suggest it may also be integrating bitcoin payments into the new product.


Apple introduced the ApplePay mobile payment system in September 2014 during its presentation of the new line of iPhones and the Apple Watch. ApplePay supports the near-field communication (NFC) technology that requires users to touch a point-of-sale terminal with their smartphone in order to make a payment. ApplePay is considered to be a dangerous rival to bitcoin by some members of the community, whilst others are more optimistic about the spread of the NFC technology that can be ultimately used for bitcoin payments as well.

Google’s new alleged Plaso (pronounced “play-so”) system is being currently tested at a number of retailers such as Papa John’s and Panera Bread, The Information report states. Although the article does not mention bitcoin, rumours have also appeared that Plaso will adopt bitcoin as a payment option.

The product works independently of hardware devices: users walk into a shop, find the Bluetooth connection, and activate the transaction option on their smartphone to say their initials at the cashdesk. The cashier identifies the initials from a list of Plaso-enabled Android smartphones on their device and then bills the user. The Information claims that users will be able to integrate Plaso with the Google wallet.

As yet, there are no detailed explanations of how the technology is supposed to work. However, Plaso appears to feature wireless technology as opposed to NFC. Compared to NFC, wireless methods like Bluetooth do not require the two devices to be placed nearby each other to process a payment, which is supposed to make things quicker and more convenient both for customers and sellers. Furthermore, the Plaso app allegedly addresses privacy issues since banks and merchants do not have access to customers’ personal details, whilst with NFC this information is stored on-device and can theoretically be retrieved.

On the other hand, NFC has its advantages for the bitcoin payment industry since it makes transactions more secure by requiring the physical proximity of the device and the POS terminal. The Square wallet has been looking into integrating both bitcoin and ApplePay payment options into its Square Reader tablet since September 2014, which would include support for NFC. Circle and BitPay process tap-and-go payments on their mobile apps via NFC as well.