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Daily Dose of iQ: CNET Questions Google Wallet's Future

Photo credit: CBS Interactive (via CNET)

CNET News' Marguerite Reardon called Google Wallet's near term plans into question today, with an article entitled "Could Google Wallet be Google next failure?"

Given than the mobile wallet concept is something could stand to affect our core business (i.e. mobile phone retail and in-store retail), we've been paying close attention to Google Wallet news since the NFC-based service was announced back in May 2011.

In a blog post published five months ago, my colleague Collin Prior listed a number of requirements for Google Wallet to go mainstream:

  • All credit card terminals in the wild need to change to support this.
  • All major credit cards should be supported (Visa, MasterCard, AMEX, Discover).
  • It must be available on all phones.
  • It mst be available from all phone carriers.

"I feel like we are at least 3-5 years out from this," he wrote, "particularly because of the cost to retailers to replace their payment processing machines. We'll see how quickly Google can overcome the above obstacles. Who knows? Maybe they can do it in fewer than three years..."

Well, as Marguerite Reardon reports, Collin wasn't far off in his analysis. As key barriers to Google Wallet adoption, she lists:

  • Will security be Google Wallet's Downfall? "On Friday, Google temporarily disabled the ability to set up new prepaid cards in its Google Wallet app after it was discovered that if someone lost his Google Wallet-enabled phone and the screen of the device wasn't locked that someone finding the phone could reset the PIN and gain access to whatever money was left on the Google Prepaid card."
  • Outfitting retailers with NFC: "Six months after Google launched the app, Google still has only one carrier partner, Sprint Nextel. And there are only two devices that are NFC-enabled and Google Wallet-ready, the Samsung Nexus S 4G on Sprint and the unlocked Galaxy Nexus, which can be used on AT&T's 3G network in the U.S."
  • Carriers in control: "It's true that consumers may not be clamoring for the technology, but it may be in part because wireless operators aren't making it easy to get their hands on it. This could be a major problem for Google. Even though the Google Wallet doesn't need carrier support to function, some operators are making sure the app doesn't work on devices on their networks."

Indeed, all of these obstacles continue to hinder Google Wallet's progress. What do you think?

Does Google have what it takes to be the predominant mobile wallet platform? Please post your comments below.


February/14, 2012