If history holds, Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) is working on an iOS version of Google Wallet while Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) is developing an alternative in time for the launch of the iPhone 5. Call it iWallet, an iTunes-ready system for using your handset to pay for goods and services.

Apple has no choice. Speaking last week at a conference in Cannes, Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt said Google is pushing hard to enable such "tap and pay" systems worldwide to capitalize on what he said could be a "trillion-dollar" opportunity.

In this case, "pushing hard" means cajoling partners to put the infrastructure in place to process payments from Android phones. Much of the work is already nearing completion, Schmidt said in comments picked up by The Financial Times.

"How long does it take an infrastructure player to upgrade a significant percentage of their infrastructure -- it's on the order of a year, it's not a week, it's not a month, but it's also not five years. ... It's an educated guess," the FT reports Schmidt as saying.

Meanwhile, more smartphones are getting near-field communications technology. Samsung built the Nexus S handset to include NXP Semiconductors' (Nasdaq: NXPI) NFC chipsets. Apple hasn't revealed details regarding its next-generation iPhones.

But with Google's history of successfully porting software to the iOS, do any of us doubt that payment-processing software will be built into the next iPhone, even if it's only an iPhone "4S," as some analysts are calling it? (Some believe the iPhone 5 won't ship until the middle of next year.) I can't see Apple failing that badly, especially with Citigroup (NYSE: C), MasterCard (NYSE: MA), and First Data already backing Google Wallet.

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Fool contributor Tim Beyers is a member of the Motley Fool Rule Breakers stock-picking team. He owned shares of Apple and Google at the time of publication. Check out Tim's portfolio holdings and Foolish writings, or connect with him on Twitter as @milehighfool. You can also get his insights delivered directly to your RSS reader.

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