Google Announces Google Wallet NFC Scheme

Google has announced that its Google Wallet NFC app will launch this summer in the US. 

The announcement was made at the companys New York office, with partners Citi, MasterCard, First Data, and Sprint. 

Google Wallet is an app that allows you to make payments via an NFC chip in your phone, as well as redeem offers and earn loyalty points. For now, Google Wallet will be compatible with the Nexus S 4G handset, which is available on the Sprint network in the US. 

Google says it plans to expand the number of phones compatible with Google Wallet “over time”. The company says in a statement: “With Google Wallet, were building an open commerce ecosystem, and were planning to develop APIs that will enable integration with numerous partners.”

At launch, Google Wallet payments will support Citi MasterCards and Google Prepaid Cards. The latter can be funded by any payment cards. The technology will work with Mastercards existing PayPass terminals. Google has so far signed up 20 retailers to the scheme, including American Eagle Outfitters, Bloomingdales, Foot Locker, Macy’s, Toys ‘R’ Us, Subway and Radio Shack. Coca-Cola is also listed as a tap and pay merchant.

“Because Google Wallet is a mobile app, it will do more than a regular wallet ever could,” says Googles statement. “Youll be able to store your credit cards, offers, loyalty cards and gift cards, but without the bulk. When you tap to pay, your phone will also automatically redeem offers and earn loyalty points for you. Someday, even things like boarding passes, tickets, ID and keys could be stored in Google Wallet.”

Google is also launching Google Offers, which will deliver a daily deal to customers inboxes. The offer will be redeemed by the payment system. 

Analyst Fred Huet, managing director of Greenwich Consulting, says that Googles announcement will accelerate the development of NFC technology. “Operators such as O2 and Orange are already gearing up, and with Googles power in the handset, OS and search space, it is just a matter of time before people are paying for their morning coffee with their phone,” he says. “But how long retailers take to deploy technology and a lack of NFC-enabled handsets could potentially stand in the way of mobile payments taking off in the UK this year.”

Huet believes that large retailers will determine how quickly the technology is adopted. 

“The fact that large retailers such as Subway and Toys R Us have signed up to the scheme in the US may signal that something similar could be on the way to the UK,” he says. “Worldwide, mobile payments are starting to take off – the technology is particularly popular in Japan and trials have been underway in Nice, France. Handset manufacturers have proved that they are looking to get involved in mobile payments, while operators are beginning to see the benefits – hence Oranges quick-tap announcement last week. Retailers need to recognise the benefits, which include more efficient payments and ability to garner more data about customers.”