Technology is pretty awesome. It seems like every few months something that was once considered science fiction becomes reality. Google Wallet fits that description nicely. It’s a useful tool and it could revolutionize your shopping habits, and eventually replace your wallet and keys.
Google Wallet - Coming to a Phone Near You
What is it? Google Wallet is a new payment technology that allows users to link a credit card with their smartphone to make payments at stores, restaurants, and other locations that accept credit cards. It is a joint offering by Google, Sprint, MasterCard, CitiBank, and First Data.
How does it work? It uses Near Field Communication (NFC) technology, which passes information back and forth via radio frequencies. According to Wikipedia, NFC can securely store information such as debit and credit card information, loyalty program data, PINs and networking contacts, among other information. The NFC technology will require stores adopt the technology, but there already hundreds of thousands of merchants who have the hardware in place.
What else does it do – and more importantly, what will it do in the future? Google Wallet will allow you to make credit card payments with your phone. But the cool part is that Google Wallet is more than just a payment system. It will act as an organization tool for your wallet, digitizing many rewards programs and loyalty cards you carry every day, and in the future, will also store your gift cards, receipts, boarding passes, tickets, and even your keys. There will also be a variety of ways to redeem your rewards points from vendors or take advantage of special offers through Google Offers, which is Google’s newest foray into the world of coupons and discounts. The eventual goal is to have Google Wallet replace the wallet you carry with you everyday.
Is it safe and secure? Google will utilize the MasterCard PayPass™ technology, which encrypts data on both sides of the transaction. Google Wallet requires a separate PIN before use, and Android phones are equipped with an additional lock screen. Read more about Google Wallet security.
A recent update also allows users to remotely disable their Google Wallet if their phone is lost or stolen.
Where it works. There are hundreds of thousands of merchants which accept MasterCard PayPass. Just look for the following logos and use your phone as your credit card.
How can I get it? Google Wallet will be free for consumers and merchants, but it’s not available to everyone yet. You need three things to use Google Wallet – an Android enabled phone with the right hardware, a participating credit card, and a merchant who has the right hardware in place to accept the payments. The first Google Wallet enabled phone will be the Nexus S 4G, which is available on the Sprint network. Google Wallet is currently limited to Sprint, Virgin Mobile devices and the Nexus 7 tablet.
Which credit cards work with Google Wallet? Google Wallet is rolling out on a limited basis to begin with, but there will likely be more cards available in the future. Most Citi® MasterCard® credit cards that are PayPass eligible will work with Google Wallet. Some of these cards include:
- Citi® Platinum Select® MasterCard®
- Citi® Dividend Platinum Select® Visa®
- Citi ThankYouSM Preferred Card
- Citi ThankYouSM Premier Card
- Citi® Platinum Select® / AAdvantage® Visa Signature® Card
Don’t have a Citi® MasterCard®? You can still use the Google Prepaid Card with Google Wallet, Google’s online payment system.
Update: Users can now connect their Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover cards with the new version of Google Wallet.
Small beginnings, but lots of potential. It may take some time for this technology to catch on since it will require the hardware be installed on new phones, participation from merchants and credit cards companies, and ultimately consumer acceptance. But I think there is a lot of potential here. Personally, I don’t feel the need to use a smartphone to make payments (I don’t mind pulling out my credit card), but I love the idea of integrating rewards cards, membership cards, and other items into a smartphone app, as well as some of other highlighted features, such as receiving discounts, using it as a boarding pass, etc. This is a cool bit of technology and I’m excited to see where it goes in the long run.
Read more about Google Wallet at their FAQ page, or this review Google Wallet and the New Wave of Paying for Things.