Google blogged today about its Google Wallet launch, a new NFC-enabled mobile payment app that will let you "tap, pay and save using your phone."
Google Wallet lets you manage offers, loyalty cards and credit cards. Eventually the app will grow to include transit cards, boarding passes, tickets and more. As we mentioned yesterday, Google Wallet is only available on Sprint Nexus S 4G phones for now.
Below is Google's video demo for Google Wallet. Take a look:
Mark Hamblen of Computerworld reports that Google is offering users $10 in their account for starting out. Citibank and MasterCard are the first to offer Google Wallet; through Citi MasterCard you can setup a virtual card on your phone. If you don’t have a Citi MasterCard, you can setup a Google Prepaid card. This is accepted anywhere a MasterCard PayPass is accepted.
Apparently, you can lock Google Wallet with a PIN so it's more secure than a physical wallet. It's exciting that I could have a single payment method and not have to carry all of my loyalty cards with me. This service is yet another indicator of how Google is well positioned to be cross carrier, spreading its technology across all mobile platforms, banking institutions and service providers.
On the other hand, current drawbacks are that this wallet is not accepted everywhere, it's only on one bank (Citibank), one credit card (MasterCard), one carrier (Sprint), and only on one phone (Nexus S 4G). I find the Sprint Exclusive Rollout on Nexus S Phones to be very limiting. I think Google is going to have to work with manufacturers and carriers to make the platform more widely accepted otherwise the platform will not succeed.
In order to go mainstream, Google Wallet needs to be accepted everywhere:
- 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, 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...