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In case you missed it, Google released a video last week showing off their new augmented reality glasses. Pretty neat stuff. And now according to American Banker, the glasses can be utilized for financial services.

So far PNC Bank is the only financial institution to offer a use for the augmented reality device — a bank and ATM finder. Pretty handy really, but I am having a hard time seeing how this is much of an improvement over a map on a smartphone or tablet. Do we really need to walk around with a cyborg-like eyepiece and display?

Google should be concentrating on getting Google Wallet off the ground. Launching 10 more Sprint phones supporting Google Wallet at Mobile World Congress was a good start. Previously only the Nexus S 4G offered the required NFC infrastructure. When coupled with the need for retailers to commit to the system as well, the outlook was pretty hazy.

Google did just acquire TxVia, the mobile payments tech company, in theory to shore up the much-criticized security issues hampering the wallet. It’s safe to say Google is not yet ready to abandon the mobile payments ship despite earlier rumors that Google is shelving the project amid all the competition.

And, let’s face it, mobile payments are very popular lately with everyone and their mother trying to get in on the action. PayPal, the incumbent in the online payment space, recently released a card reader aimed at merchants. Called PayPal Here, it was a direct shot across the bow of mobile payments leader Square, and their dongle.

Perhaps some futuristic glasses are just what Google needs to propel them to success in mobile payments. They are creating at least a little buzz in an otherwise dry and jargon-filled market. The glasses actually make a lot of sense in an urban setting, where the real-time information would be most helpful. And let’s be honest, anything would be an improvement over people walking around staring down into their smartphone.

To summarize: we now have a battle royale brewing that includes software, cellphone, banking, and other technology companies; executives bouncing around between competitors; and new players entering the fracas (Tappmo, founded by ex-Google Wallet engineers, to name one).

By the time this is posted the landscape will most likely have shifted again. Don’t forget about Facebook either. They’ve been mentioned on this blog before as another army in the payment war.

It will be interesting to see what partnerships are formed to try to gain an upper-hand in this scrum.

No one knows how long the mobile payments war will drag out and who will be left standing. Or, if they will use augmented reality glasses, a dongle, a camera or some other newfangled, yet to be invented, device to dominate the mobile payments market.

As it stands right now, I’ll take augmented reality glasses over another dongle any day.

About David Sutton: David has a BA in economics and a MS in business journalism, and his articles have appeared on and in the Boston Business Journal. David has had a bank account since he was three.


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James W. Gabberty

Gabberty is a professor of information systems at Pace University in New York City. An alumnus of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and New York University Polytechnic Institute, he has served as an expert witness in telecommunication and information security at the federal and state levels and holds numerous certifications from SANS & ISACA.

Zachary Ehrlich

25-year-old writer, and as a native San Franciscan, I am unreasonably loyal to Bank of America, if only for their superhero-like origin story, involving the 1906 earthquake and Italian fruit vendors.

Marisa Mann

Marisa Mann brings over 15 years of experience in consulting and financial services industries to the Solstice team, working on large scale enterprise initiatives across many technologies, including specializing in the digital space – Internet and mobile. Mann is passionate about mobile and the endless possibilities for the enterprise, delivering business value through strong brand recognition and driving to excellence in the consumer experience. Prior to Solstice, Mann worked at JP Morgan Chase, Diamond Management and Technology Consultants, Washington Mutual, Inc, and Accenture.

Brad Strothkamp

Neill Harris

Neill Harris is product marketing director for ATM solutions at NCR. He travels extensively to many of the world's leading banks and financial institutions, articulating how self-service technology and innovation can inform and support strategies and solve challenges.