Google Inc. is joining the NFC Forum, a non-profit association that sets technical specifications for how businesses use near field communication technology for payments applications and other services.

As a principal member, Google can appoint a voting representative to the organization's technical, marketing and compliance committees and working groups, NFC Forum said in a press release Thursday. Principal members can also take part in the group's testing and certification program through their own testing labs.

NFC chips allow for two-way communication between devices in close proximity. They are being used by mobile phone manufacturers, wireless carriers and payment networks in anticipation of services that will allow consumers to pay for purchases by waving their smartphones in front of a merchant's terminal.

The NFC Forum in Wakefield, Mass., was formed in 2004 and works on setting standards for how the technology can be used in hardware and software so that it is compatible with different developers' products.

Google is working with MasterCard Inc., an NFC sponsor member, and Citigroup Inc. on a mobile payments system based on NFC, according to news reports.

A spokesman for Google could not be reached immediately Thursday morning.