Google Unveils Mobile Wallet Service

Google on Thursday unveiled a mobile wallet platform and field tests in New York and San Francisco that will let people with special phones pay for goods in retail shops by tapping the phones against a payment terminal.

By Nancy Gohring
Thu, May 26, 2011

IDG News Service — Google (GOOG) on Thursday unveiled a mobile wallet platform and field tests in New York and San Francisco that will let people with special phones pay for goods in retail shops by tapping the phones against a payment terminal.

The Google Wallet initially supports Mastercard (MA) credit cards from Citi and users can pay for goods at 120,000 U.S. shops including Macy's (M), Walgreens, Subway, Noah's Bagels, American Eagle, Bloomingdale's, Peet's Coffee, Toys 'R' Us and others.

Sprint (S) is also a partner at the launch, since it sells Google's Nexus S phone, one of the only phones in the U.S. capable of using the new Google Wallet. The Nexus S supports NFC, an open standard backed by many companies including Microsoft (MSFT), Visa (V), Sony, Nokia and AT&T. However, Android now supports NFC technology and additional phones are expected to become available soon.

"We're extending an open invitation to merchants and ecosystem partners like payment networks, carriers and banks to join us in creating tomorrow's best shopping experience," said Stephanie Tilenius, vice president of commerce for Google.

The wallet has some features that haven't been in previous attempts to offer mobile wallets. For instance, the wallet can include multiple cards. In addition to the Citi card, Google is including a prepaid Google payment card that users can fill up from any credit card.

In addition, the wallet can include loyalty cards. When users pay for an item at the point of sale, with one tap they can transfer multiple cards, including their credit card and the loyalty card.

"The idea is to continue to partner and add cards to the wallet so hopefully I'll be putting all my cards in there," said Osama Bedier, vice president of payments at Google. The executives unveiled the new service at an event in New York that was webcast.

Google expects to officially release the product this summer in the U.S. Google officials also said that some 300,000 international retailers have the capability to support the mobile wallet, but they did not elaborate on plans outside of the U.S.

In addition to the wallet, Google introduced Google Offers, which lets users collect electronic coupons and submit them at the point of sale. People can find coupons online and click on a button to send the coupons into their Google Offers account to make them available on the phone.

Coupons can also be redeemed simply by showing a cashier the coupon, so they can be used at retailers that haven't yet upgraded their systems to accept NFC.

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