The Next Step in Mobile Payments: Google Wallet

In another good example of increasing telecom complexity, your smartphone is now your credit card.  Google is leading the pack in processing mobile payments, by unveiling the Google Wallet NFC (Near Field Communications) payments program in New York City on Thursday.  In a nutshell, it means that the time has come where you can search for, swipe and buy items from your phone, without ever taking your credit card out of your pocket.

Google’s VP of Commerce Stephanie Tilenius said at the media event:

“Google Wallet combines offers and payments at the point of sale, makes it easy for partners and third-parties to create better consumer experiences, and drives brand new shopping experiences for everyone…Your phone will be your wallet. Just tap, pay and save.”

Google execs asserted that 300,000 merchants are ready for the Google Wallet program, including Macy’s, Walgreens, Noah’s Bagels and Toys ‘r’ Us, among others. The program will also support multiple credit card options, like Citibank’s MasterCard and a Google reloadable pre-paid card.

NFC is already available on some smartphones, like the Google and Samsung Nexus S.  Tilenius added:

By 2014, 50% of smartphones will be NFC-enabled. That’s 150 million devices. For business, Google Wallet is an opportunity to offer faster and easier shopping with rewards points.

But both business and personal users may worry about storing credit card data on their phone.  Google points out existing and new security features to help ease minds.  All smartphones already have passcode locking features, which are easy to activate.  And to use Google Wallet, an additional 4-digit PIN must be utilized and the credit card number is encrypted and never fully displayed, further securing the user’s information.

Google Wallet will also work with any existing MasterCard PayPass location, so even if the full NFC service is not yet in your area, you may be able to use it at certain national vendors.  

For more information on Google Wallet, and see locations you can use it at, or when it will roll out in your area, visit http://www.google.com/wallet