Google has teamed up with MasterCard and Citigroup on a mobile payment service that would involve embedding NFC technology in Android smartphones, according to the Wall Street Journal. The search giant’s strategy is to make mobile payments simpler “in a bid to boost its advertising business”, says the story. Google would offer retailers more data about their customers and target them with ads and discount offers when they are in the vicinity of their stores. The company would not take a share of the transaction fees. Holders of Citigroup debit and credit cards would make purchases using an application “developed for one current model and many coming models of Android phones”. The first NFC-enabled Android phone, Google’s own Nexus S handset, was launched in December last year. The report says Google’s project with its two financial partners is “in its early stages”.

Details in the report fit with other recent coverage about Google’s interest in a mobile payment service, of which there has been a significant amount. The Journal report says Verifone Systems, which makes card-readers for cash registers, is also involved in the project. Another report recently said Google will conduct a trial of NFC technology with Verifone in New York and San Francisco within the next four months.