Google officially announced its NFC-based Google Wallet mobile payment service at an event in New York City today, giving substance to a story that has been building for months, and even years.
The service is backed up by a number of retail and financial partners: Subway, Macy's, Walgreens, Toys 'R Us, First Data, Citibank and MasterCard, as well as Sprint on the carrier side, reports Donald Melanson of Engadget.com.
Through Mastercard, Google Wallet becomes compatible with the PayPass tap-to-pay payment system you may have already seen in certain stores. "Trials are beginning immediately, with a full relase planned for this summer -- initially, the Google Wallet app will only be compatible with the Spring Nexus S 4G, but support for more phones is promised 'over time,'" writes Melanson. "You'll also have to use either a Citi MasterCard or Google Prepaid Card with the service, although the latter can obviously be funded from any other card."
The company also announced Google Offers, which delivers an "offer of the day" to your inbox and grants you access to other retailers' offers. Google Offers integrates with Google Wallet so that loyalty rewards with different stores are tracked and redeemed automatically with the tap of your NFC phone. So, if every 10th cup of coffee is free, you pay by tapping your phone and on the 10th cup, you tap and your free coffee is redeemed. No paper coupons, no cash transaction. It's the future!!
For partner retailers, the integration of coupons and offers into the Google Wallet service drives target foot traffic to their stores. From the Google Retail Blog today: "The integration of offers into Google Wallet will enable merchants to close the loop by directly connecting their online and mobile advertising with offline purchases. In addition, Google Wallet provides merchants with a way to engage with customers in-store, enhancing the customer experience."
Here's the video that accompanied the Google Retail Blog post:
My colleague, Garett Rogers, has been closely following this story. "The coolest thing about this to me is that you can actually make a purchase, redeem an offer and participate in reward programs in a single swipe," he says. "It's very simple."
"Another important part of this announcement is the large footprint that Google will have when they roll out. Just through the MasterCard PayPass system alone, Google Wallet will work at over 300,000 retail locations," he adds.
"I can't wait to see it in action. I don't know what the experience will feel like, but it seems like it's going to be a game changer."