Google Inc. wants to turn your phone into a credit card. This week, the search-engine giant released Google Wallet, a smart-phone app that allows shoppers to purchase items with a single swipe. Just hold your phone up to the checkout counter and Google Wallet will do the work of several cards at once.
Search engine giant made the announcement back in May 2011, but until now, has yet to launch a first version of the app.¬†The mobile app means a single phone can store a multitude of cards and be sent offers, as well as keep track of a user‚Äôs spending.
Using near-field communications (NFC) technology, the Wallet is ‚Äúaimed at making it easier for you to pay for and save on the goods you want, while giving merchants more ways to offer coupons and loyalty programs to customers, as well as bridging the gap between online and offline commerce‚ÄĚ, Google said in its May blog post.
The first version of the Google’s service only supports a Citi Mastercard and a Google prepaid card. It will work wherever the contactless Mastercard ‚ÄėPayPass‚Äô is installed.
‚ÄúOur goal is to make it possible for you to add all of your payment cards to Google Wallet, so you can say goodbye to even the biggest traditional wallets,‚ÄĚ wrote Osama Bedier, vice president of Google‚Äôs payments teams.
‚ÄúThis is still just the beginning, and while we‚Äôre excited about this first step, we look forward to bringing Google Wallet to more phones in the future.‚ÄĚ¬†In three years, 1 in 5 smart phones will have NFC chips, according to Juniper Research.
As a thanks to early adopters, Google is adding a $10 free bonus to the Google Prepaid Card if US users set it up in Google Wallet before the end of the year.
Additionally Google announced via its company blog last night that Visa, Discover and American Express have all made their NFC specifications available that could enable their cards to be added to future versions of Google Wallet.
Visa comes onboard a ‚ÄúGoogle Wallet‚ÄĚ project already supported by Citigroup, MasterCard, Sprint Nextel Corp ¬†and First Data.
“You save time, money, and pocket space,” said Google product manager Marc Freed-Finnegan. “We want to help you organize your wallet, organize your life practically, on your phone,” he added.
Mr. Freed-Finnegan said Google is working with manufacturers to promote NFC in phones. Analysts anticipate Apple, Nokia, and Microsoft will follow suit. PayPal and Intuit have each announced their own versions of Google Wallet ‚Äď as has Isis, a partnership between AT&T, Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile USA and¬†all the major card networks, including MasterCard and Visa.
But while Sprint announced the launch of the Google Wallet service Monday, Isis has said its rival service will not launch until early next year. ‚ÄúThis agreement extends Google Wallet to Visa account holders worldwide,‚ÄĚ said Stephanie Tilenius, Google‚Äôs vice president of Commerce and Payments. ‚ÄúThis is a crucial step towards realizing our shared vision for the future of mobile commerce.‚ÄĚ
For U.S. banks, mobile payments are a way to wean their customers off the use of cash and generate more revenue. Merchants pay banks a fee every time a shopper buys something with a credit or debit card and Google said it would not take a cut of those fees from the new pay-by-phone system. ¬†[via Google’s Blog]