Search engine giant Google has kicked off a new era in payments with the formal launch of its mobile wallet service and the announcement of new co-operation agreements with Visa, Discover and American Express.
Initially, Google Wallet will be available only to consumers in posession of a Citi MasterCard (or prepaid card) and an Android-powered Nexus S from Sprint. As an incentive, Google is offering $10 on a Google pre-paid card to anyone who gives Wallet a try by the end of the year.
The official launch of the service has been much anticipated after Google first initiated field trials of the NFC Android app in partnership with VeriFone, MasterCard, Citi, Sprint and First Data in June.
However, the surprise announcement today of support for other popular credit cards from Visa, American Express and Discover adds a new dimension to Google's ambitions and firmly positions the service as a mass market proposition.
Osama Bedier, VP, payments, Google, says: "The world is on the brink of the next big shift in payments, and today's announcement demonstrates that we're making real progress in attaining the vision we share with our partners for a new and innovative mobile payments platform. We believe this is just the beginning of a transformation that's soon to come."
Peter Ayliffe, CEO of Visa Europe, adds: "The convergence of payment applications on the mobile handset presents an exciting opportunity for banks, mobile operators and manufacturers to work together to offer consumers choice in the way they make and manage their payments. Building Visa technology into Google Wallet gives our member banks a revolutionary way to meet their customers' needs through the smart phone."