July 13, 2011

To Improve Upon Mobile Wallet, Google Acquires Punchd


Google (News - Alert) is not kidding around about aggressively pursuing its Google Wallet mobile payment system as evidenced by the empire’s recent acquisition of Punchd, a smartphone-based loyalty card business, for an amount believed to be more than $10 million.

The rumor mill is churning out that Google will use Punchd’s service as part of its mobile payment system. This move marks Google’s 14th acquisition for the year.

According to Google, Google Wallet will be an Android (News - Alert) app that makes your phone your wallet by storing virtual versions of your existing credit cards on the device. By simply tapping a phone, users can pay for items through advances of near field communication (NFC). The goal is for Google Wallet to eventually hold many if not all of the cards you keep in your wallet and, moving forward, the app will even synch your loyalty cards, gift cards, receipts, boarding passes, tickets, and keys to the app.

So why acquire Punchd when it appears that Google Wallet will already be able to do so much?

As an article on Search Engine Watch contends, with Punchd smartphones scan a QR code to virtually redeem a punch. This allows customers to not have to carry around cards and it also gives local businesses useful information about their customers, including how many times the code has been scanned and whether they are a repeat customer.

Despite the acquisition, the six-person Punchd team isn’t simply being absorbed by Google to work on other projects but, rather, “it’s going to continue working on Punchd full time, and that the service isn’t going anywhere,” according to a TechCrunch report.

“We appreciate everyone’s support over the past year, and we look forward to sharing our ideas with a larger audience,” Punchd said in a letter about the acquisition.

In May, Sprint (News - Alert) announced that it has teamed with Google to launch Google Wallet, which is expecte to be available this summer. Sprint will be the first carrier and Nexus S 4G will be the first phone to deliver this service.

“We are pleased to join Google in offering this cutting-edge capability that lets you leave the house with just your phone, and tap and pay to shop, dine out and go to the movies," said Fared Adib, senior vice president of Product for Sprint. "We are proud that Nexus S 4G is the first smartphone with Google Wallet and pleased that our customers can be the first to experience the service."


Carrie Schmelkin is a Web Editor for TMCnet. Previously, she worked as Assistant Editor at the New Canaan Advertiser, a 102-year-old weekly newspaper, covering news and enhancing the publication's social media initiatives. Carrie holds a bachelor's degree in journalism and a bachelor's degree in English from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. To read more of her articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Chris DiMarco
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