The dream of mobile payments, tapping a phone to a store kiosk to pay for your shopping. Google’s been slowly pushing into this consumer relationship with Wallet. Storing your credit card information, and utilizing NFC to tap & pay at select retailers. This hardware functionality has progressed very slowly as cell carriers have been trying to push a competing standard called ISIS, which uses a different kind of security which is incompatible with Google’s offering. Pretty much means we consumers get left without a working solution. Any time there’s a “format war” it’s bad for the industry (remember HD-DVD vs Blu-Ray). As it stands now, only 29 phones have proper NFC tap & pay functionality. I’m sure you notice a disturbing lack of Verizon and AT&T handsets on that list…
We’ve heard little news from the Wallet team over the last several months, but it looks like Google has been busy working on a Wallet expansion. Rolling out soon to Android users in the United States, Wallet is about to learn a few new tricks.
Google opened up the ability for Wallet users to send money to other Wallet users through GMail, and now that’s coming to the app. In a clear shot at services like Paypal, transfers from a linked bank account are free, and a 2.9% fee will be attached when sending money with credit or debit card.
In addition to payments, Google is also expanding the scope of Wallet to take some of the strain off of your physical non-digital wallet. If you’ve got a stack of store Loyalty cards, you can leave them at home now. Wallet will store and track your cards, coupons, and points alongside your purchases. Having used similar services, it’s nice just pulling up the card on my phone instead of having a bunch of filthy, peeling, plastic tabs on my key ring.
The Wallet update will roll out this week.