Google today announced its new Google Wallet service for contactless payments with your phone. To launch this new product, Google has partnered with MasterCard, Citi, FirstData and Sprint. As for retailers, Google is working with Macy’s, Noah’s Bagels, Jamba Juice, Peet’s Coffee & Tea and others. A field test for Google Wallet is launching in San Francisco and New York today (for those who have a Nexus S 4G phone) and Google plans to officially introduce the service later this summer.
Using Google Wallet
Here is how Google imagines your next trip to the supermarket: you will not just keep your shopping list on your phone, but you will also get relevant offers while you browse your list. Once you get to the check-out counter, your phone will not just handle the payments through the built-in NFC chip, but this chip will also allow you to manage your loyalty cards. Google Wallet will support multiple cards. Currently, this only includes a Google-based prepaid card and your Citibank Mastercards. Every Google Wallet account will automatically be provisioned with a Google prepaid account. According to Mastercard’s Ed McGlaughlin, about 120,000 merchants in the U.S. are ready to accept NFC-based payments. In Google’s vision, about 150 million devices will be NFC-enabled by 2014. Google also plans to closely integrate this new payment system with it Google Offers product. More importantly, though, Google’s long-term vision is that you will use Google’s product for anything in your wallet, including driving licenses, loyalty cards and airline boarding passes.
As for security, Google notes that the NFC chip will not just be turned off when the phone is in your pocket, but it also won’t work until you activate the Google Wallet application on the phone. This should make it very hard for hackers to skim your data.