Google Wallet overhaul shifts emphasis away from NFC

Google Wallet overhaul shifts emphasis away from NFC

Google has overhauled its mobile wallet service, opening it up to all Android devices running version 2.3 or higher and distancing it from its NFC-based origins.

When it launched in 2011 Google Wallet was pitched as a tool for enabling in-store, NFC-based payments. But, thanks to a limited number of compatible handsets and the refusal of telcos AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon to back it, the service has failed to take off.

The latest version of the Wallet app marks a major departure from Google's initial blueprint, opening it up to all handsets running at least Gingerbread and to AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon subscribers.

Although these customers will not be able to make NFC payments, they can make free person-to-person payments from their bank account or Google Wallet balance to anyone in the US with an e-mail address.

Google has also beefed up its loyalty point features, letting users add their cards to the app by scanning their barcodes or entering their numbers. In-store customers can then collect points by scanning the app at checkout, rather than having to use NFC.

Partners - including Alaska Airlines, Belly, and Red Mango - have also struck deals to let people sign up to their programmes from within the app.

Meanwhile, offers found through apps such as Google Maps, Search and Google+, as well as select merchant and couponing sites such as Valpak, can be redeemed from the Wallet at checkout.

Google insists that it will "continue to invest in NFC" but the technology appears to be losing favour in the mobile money market, with both Apple and PayPal deciding to snub it in favour of Bluetooth low energy.

Comments: (3)

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 18 September, 2013, 12:29Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Blogged on Finextra - What is a Digital Wallet anyway?!?!

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 19 September, 2013, 15:59Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

To gain wider acceptance at physical POS, Google needs to allow other interfaces - not only NFC (e.g. QR codes,...). Retailers are pushing back on NFC as a technology that carries forward the existing card model with interchange and processing cost that is too high for mobile payments. Aletrnative interfaces and new payment methods with lower cost structure would position Google for success.

John Candido
John Candido - Black Cabs - Melbourne 19 September, 2013, 16:09Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

A digital wallet or virtual wallet is the same thing. They are a software equivalent for your real wallet. A digital wallet contains every credit card, debit card and every charge card that you possess. Examples of virtual wallets in existence are Google, Masterpass, owned by MasterCard and V.me, owned by Visa.