2011-05-26

Google Wallet: pay with your Android phone (a summary)

Google Wallet is a new product that enables you to pay with your Android cell phone.

The steps for paying at a merchant, as outlined by Google, are: Find one of symbols shown at (1). Tap your phone on the reader (2).

What and how:
  • Technology: Near Field Communication (NFC) is a technology for exchanging data between devices that are within a few centimeters of each other. For Google Wallet, your phone and a reader device, at the sales point, exchange payment information: To pay, you tap the phone on a reader.
  • Applications: pay with your phone, automatically manage loyalty programs (points etc.). Future: use as a key, for tickets, gift cards, etc.
  • Pay via
    • Credit card (currently only Citi MasterCard).
    • Google Prepaid Card: a virtual card, offered by Google, operated by MasterCard.
    • Gift cards: virtual gift cards by participating merchants.
Where:
  • Participating merchants: Bloomingdale’s, Einstein Bros. Bagels, Foot Locker, Guess, RadioShack, Subway, Toys“R”Us, Walgreen’s, etc.
  • Where it works: either at MasterCard PayPass locations (“hundreds of thousands of merchants across the United States”) or at yet-to-be-built Google Wallet locations. Location finder by Google.
  • Google distinguishes the following two categories of merchants:
    • Google SingleTap merchants: “Pay, redeem offers, and earn loyalty credit” (see below).
    • Tap and pay merchants: pay with Google Wallet at any PayPass-enabled merchant.
More Google products:
  • Google Offers: Deals for Google Wallet customers. A competitor to Groupon.
  • Loyalty cards: Google can manage loyalty points for merchants, if they want to.
Further details:
  • Security: NFC is only switched on if the screen is on. Every transaction must be authorized via a PIN.
  • Privacy: Quoting the FAQ.
    Does Google or my phone store what I buy using Google Wallet, and from where?
    Google Wallet does not currently receive data about what products you purchase with it. Google Wallet does record (locally on the phone) the time of an initiated transaction and which credential was used. Google Wallet also gives you the option to turn on a feature to record your location at the time of purchase. [...]
  • Compatible phones: currently only the Nexus S 4G, with more to come [1].
  • Google does not charge merchants for using Wallet, but credit card charges apply.
  • Availability: field testing now, public release this summer.
Related reading:
  1. Motorola, HTC, and Samsung all building Google Wallet NFC-enabled Android phones for Sprint
  2. Google Wallet video hands-on

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