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Google Wallet goes live

Operator group Telefonica will allow consumers in the US and Canada to buy mobile airtime in retail stores for family and friends who are Movistar subscribers in Latin America

Google’s mobile wallet venture has become a commercial reality, although it remains very much in its infancy. A trial was announced in May and, at present, the service is supported only by the Samsung Nexus S 4G (WiMAX) handset on the Sprint network in the US, although the retail side is supported by the MasterCard PayPass network—a merchant point of sale service covering more than 124,000 PayPass-enabled merchants nationally and more than 311,000 globally.

Commenting on the launch, Fred Huet, MD of telecoms and media consultancy Greenwich Consulting, said: “The prospect of contactless payments hitting the mainstream market has got retailers, banks and manufacturers excited and Google was astute to initially announce its product when it did. The beauty of Google Wallet is its simplicity; bringing NFC to the masses via an application that allows for coupons and loyalty cards, thus making the whole process seamless. With Mastercard also lending financial credibility to the service, there is no reason why Google Wallet won’t be an industry standard payment platform next year – and converging on one standard could be the tipping point for intelligent and contactless payments to go mainstream.”

That said, Google Wallet still has a long way to go before it is rolled out on a large scale and it faces competition from several quarters. Similar announcements came in a flurry, with Orange’s European operations promising to deliver an NFC-enabled version of the Samsung Galaxy S II in October as part of its Cityzi portfolio, which is promoting NFC service in France on behalf of the French mobile contactless association (AFSCM).

The Android device will use the SIM card to guarantee the security of contactless mobile services, which is where the system differs from Google, which is pushing the idea of a separate, dedicated ‘secure element’ within each NFC device. Yet Orange said that a new generation of secure SIM cards will soon be rolled out in France and the group is working with equipment manufacturers to ensure that more than half of the new smartphone models are compatible with the contactless services.

In a separate announcement however, Google revealed that it has secured a worldwide licence for Visa Paywave, which gives Visa-issuing banks the opportunity to offer Visa account holders the chance to add their debit, credit and prepaid cards to Google Wallet, expanding the service’s reach even further, particularly given Visa’s presence in Europe.

“The convergence of payment applications on the mobile handset presents an exciting opportunity for banks, mobile operators and manufacturers to work together to offer consumers choice in the way they make and manage their payments. Building Visa technology into Google Wallet gives our member banks a revolutionary way to meet their customers’ needs through the smart phone,” said Peter Ayliffe, CEO of Visa Europe.

“Mobile payments are reaching a tipping point in Europe: we believe that 2012 will be the year that new payment technologies such as mobile and contactless achieve mainstream consumer acceptance. Today’s announcement is another demonstration of our commitment to working with players from across the payments ecosystem to bring our vision to life, delivering choice in payments for consumers and retailers,” he added.


3 comments

  1. Katie Leaver 20/09/2011 @ 5:07 pm

    Google wallet could well be widely used within the industry next year, having already brought Mastercard on board. It will be fascinating to see what is happening on the platform in a few months’ time.
    Katie Leaver, London Loves Jobs

    • Cade 16/12/2011 @ 6:27 pm

      It’s a pleasure to find such rationaltiy in an answer. Welcome to the debate.

  2. Sanjeev Nawani 22/09/2011 @ 9:38 am

    Industry forum needs to be formed so that the customer does not get multiple confusing products… The telcos and OEMs need to agree on the best cost effective mechanism of mobile payments which can benefit low end device customers also many of whom do not have bank accounts as well……

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