Google Launches Mobile Wallet Service

By Gary Kim May 26, 2011

Google has launched its “SingleTap” mobile wallet service, working with Citi, MasterCard, First Data and Sprint. Google suggests one of the advantages, aside from reducing the need to carry multiple loyalty program cards and credentials, are savings and offers of various types. Unlike some other mobile payments efforts, the Google mobile wallet does not attempt to build a revenue model on the actual transaction itself. Instead, Google expects to build one or more businesses based on location, local advertising and promotion 

The Google Wallet is a key part of Google's strategy for enhancing shopping for both businesses and consumers, the company says. “It’s aimed at making it easier for you to pay for and save on the goods you want, while giving merchants more ways to offer coupons and loyalty programs to customers, as well as bridging the gap between online and offline commerce,” Google says.

At first, Google Wallet will support both Citi MasterCard and a Google Prepaid Card, which you’ll be able to fund with almost any payment card.

Users will have to use a Google Nexus S at first, since that is the only Android device that natively supports near field communications. The service also will be available in a limited number of cities.

Google Wallet is built to work with the fast growing MasterCard PayPass network—a merchant point of sale service that enables consumers to tap to pay. As a result, Google Wallet will immediately be accepted at more than 124,000 PayPass-enabled merchants nationally and more than 311,000 globally.

Google is also working with point of sale systems companies and top retail brands to create a new SingleTap shopping experience. Consumers will be able to pay for an item using a credit card or gift card, redeem promotions and earn loyalty points—all with a single tap of their Google Wallet. Google is working with VeriFone, Hypercom, Ingenico, VIVOTech and others to develop these next generation point of sale systems.

“Google Wallet allows us to harness the power of mobile technology to enhance our in-store shopping experience and helps bridge the gap between our online and in-store consumer interactions,” said Martine Reardon, executive vice-president of marketing and advertising, Macy's. “Macy's is always looking for cutting-edge technology that will deliver value and engage our customers in personal ways. Google Wallet delivers this unique interaction across channels.”

The first Google Wallet field tests are focused in New York and San Francisco, where many retailers, Coca-Cola vending machines and even taxis are enabled, including major outlets such as CVS, Jack in the Box, Sports Authority and Sunoco. First Data, a global leader in electronic commerce and payment processing, is actively recruiting thousands of new merchants in these areas and will soon expand those efforts to deploy more contactless merchant terminals across the country.

Google has also been testing a variety of consumer deals that can range from a 20 percent discount on a new pair of boots discovered on a Google search advertisement; to a $5 off check-in offer received upon entering a store; to a “deal of the day” offering a $20 lunch for $10 at a local restaurant.

At most stores you will be able to use Google Wallet to show your offer at the register, where the cashier will either scan it or manually type it in. At participating Google SingleTap merchants, you will be able to pay and redeem an offer with one tap of your mobile device.

Because Google Wallet is a mobile app, it will eventually be able to do more than a regular wallet ever could, but without the bulk, Google says, SingleTap will start with offers, loyalty and gift cards but some day items like receipts, boarding passes and tickets will all be seamlessly synced to your Google Wallet.

Google Wallet will work best if it’s an open commerce ecosystem so you will be able to carry all the credit cards, offers, loyalty and gift cards you choose—and eventually much more. To this end, Google Wallet will make it possible to integrate numerous types of partners, and Google, Citi, MasterCard, First Data and Sprint invite the banking community, mobile carriers, handset manufacturers, merchants and others to work with Google Wallet.

Want to learn more about the latest in communications and technology? Then be sure to attend ITEXPO West 2011, taking place Sept. 13-15, 2011, in Austin, Texas. ITEXPO offers an educational program to help corporate decision makers select the right IP-based voice, video, fax and unified communications solutions to improve their operations. It's also where service providers learn how to profitably roll out the services their subscribers are clamoring for – and where resellers can learn about new growth opportunities. To register, click here.


Gary Kim is a contributing editor for TechZone360. To read more of Gary’s articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Jennifer Russell

Contributing Editor

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