Ever since Google CEO Eric Schmidt first touted Android 2.3’s NFC capabilities at a recent conference, Google has made it clear that it plans to make a big play in the mobile payment space. Google’s play will star NFC, of course, and it certainly isn’t the only major player in the cell phone space looking to capitalize on the coming mobile payment boom — Nokia has already released NFC-equipped cell phones, RIM is known to be eying NFC and Apple is rumored to be testing the technology for future iPhone models. Today, The 451 Group revealed that Google recently acquired stealth mobile payment startup Zetawire. The Toronto-based company has less than five employees and no website, but it does have a patent application filed for “a payment system, an advertising system, and an identity management system” combined into a single offering. It’s hard to say exactly what Google has in mind with this acquisition, but it is probably safe to assume the company’s plans involve Android, NFC, ads and making money.

[Via Phone Scoop]