Blaze Mobile has been granted a patent for its innovative technology for mobile devices that allows consumers to use them as a form of payment at retail checkouts. The Blaze mobile wallet technology uses a sticker which allows the user to wave the device in front of a checkout reader to automatically pay for their purchase.
Blaze has been an early developer of mobile payment solutions before they became popular with larger companies, and Blaze was also one of the first to use NFC technology to enable instant payment capability. The Blaze NFC sticker attaches to the back of your device and works with the company’s mobile wallet app to process transactions. The sticker was a simple yet effective way to get around the fact that few smartphones sold today are NFC enabled.
It’s interesting to note that this year Google also introduced a similar payment service called Google Wallet, which used stickers as a workaround for devices without built-in NFC. The obvious question arises as to whether the Google technology infringes on the just-issued Blaze patent, which currently works with an iPhone app and a Java-based app.
According to the CEO of Blaze, Michelle Fisher, the company is well aware that its technology has been used by others, although she stated diplomatically that Blaze was not in competition with any other NFC phone including the Google Nexus NFC phone. She said that the company’s niche remains to offer an alternative to consumers who want to use mobile payment technology without purchasing a new NFC-enabled phone. This is a market that has years of growth, if Google’s estimate is correct that only 50% of handsets by 2014 will come with NFC chips built-in. Blaze is also working on a mobile wallet that is based on text messaging, which should be introduced by the fourth quarter.