Google Wallet and the New Wave of Paying for Things

Imagine going to a store or a restaurant and you forgot your wallet or purse.  No credit cards.  No cash.  No problem!  Whip out your cell phone, enter your pin, tap, and paid.  “What,” you say?!?

Google introduces Google Wallet

Google is revolutionizing the way that we pay for things.  Google has introduced a new application available on your phone that turns your phone into your digital wallet and gives you an alternate form of payment.  This will allow shoppers to pay for groceries or a new outfit at the mall with their mobile device.

The service provided is near-field communications (NFC) which is a wireless communication system operating on a short-range basis allowing for payment in retail operations via a special chip in association with a special reader.  The device provided in retail locations only operates on a very short range with your smart phone in an effort to avoid hackers.

Google has also provided pin numbers to achieve maximum security efforts.  Another attempt at security is the NFC chip in the phone will self-destruct if a hacker is attempting to steal your information while your phone is in dark mode.  In the event that your information is stolen, it will be treated the same as a credit card and you will not be liable for fraudulent purchases.

How Google Wallet Works

To pay you either need a Citibank credit card, which you enter its information into your phone, or the Google Prepaid Card, which you can fund with any credit card (right now the first $10 on the Google Prepaid Card is on them).  The Google Prepaid Card is a virtual card meaning it’s an online account so you won’t receive a physical card.

Google Wallet can also store gift card information from participating merchants to be used when you shop.  Instead of carrying around those gifts cards you got as gifts, you can store them on your Google Wallet account so you never forget them.

Do you have a wallet, or keychain, full of store loyalty cards? Google Wallet will be able to store those as well (at participating merchants).  Instead of fishing for your card, or forgetting it because your keys are in the car where your wife is waiting while you run into the store, you can use your phone to make sure you get the loyalty rewards and discounts for your purchases.

Google will also be using this as a way to expand their Google Offers program.  Google Offers will basically another version of Groupon (Groupon may be wishing they sold to Google if Google Offers really takes off).  Google Wallet will store your offers and you will be able to redeem them at participating merchants with a tap of your phone (or a scan of the barcode on your phone screen).

Limited trial

Currently, Google is using this new application on a trial basis in San Francisco and New York City.  The technology will expand over the summer.  Also, there is a catch with phone service.  The only phone able to support this technology at the time is the Spring Nexus S 4G cellular phone.  The application on the Nexus S 4G phone is free.  Google is promising to offer support for other carriers soon.

Google has gained support from retail provides such as Subway, MasterCard, Macy’s, and Citibank.  It hopes to gain momentum in obtaining more of the large retail providers in the near future.  Google is not currently requiring any fees from these companies for the use of this service but rather hopes to generate revenues from the sales of new phones and from the traffic generated to its websites.

Possibilities of the future

Google is expressing the new design of an open commerce ecosystem.  This system is moving technology into the future.  This application was designated with that in hopes in future that you will be able to store all sorts of information on your mobile device such as credit cards, rewards cards, receipts, passports and boarding passes.  The NFC system is attempting to be a more open system with the intention of not sacrificing security.

There are some hurdles for Google to make this work.  Since Sprint is the only provider of this digital wallet at the moment, it is possible that AT&T and Verizon will come up with their own similar systems.  Cellular companies have been developing this technology for some time and it is only a matter of time before other providers supply similar applications.

I like where this is going.  Though it seems scary to have so much information and power in your cell phone, I think it makes sense.  It’s really only a matter of time before all of our pertinent information will be accessible via “the cloud.”  Google is just the first company to roll this out.  I’m sure we’ll be seeing other versions of a digital wallet appear shortly.

What do you think of Google Wallet and paying for things with your phone?

Other sites talking about Google Wallet:

Google Wallet Just Killed Your Wallet
Google Wallet – Coming to a Phone Near You
Google Wallet: Is it safe?

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Published or updated December 30, 2014.


  1. Amazing stuff… just need to put the drivers license on the phone and I think we could eliminate the wallet all together.

  2. Glen, I’m wondering if this will catch on or not. We used to have a Discover credit card that attached to a key chain. It was smaller than a regular sized card & shaped like the Nike swoop. I didn’t carry it because I worried others could get my info too easily even though it had a small cover than whisked to the side when using. DH used his a lot & enjoyed the convenience since he never went anywhere without his keys and he hates carrying a wallet.
    It must have been a test program because people were amazed whenever he used it. It could be swiped just like a regular card & had the raised numbers, etc. Just all of the excess plastic was gone. Teens in particular thought it was so cool when he used it at fast food places. Yes, my 68-year-old dh was super cool! It finally wore out, and Discover doesn’t offer it anymore, but he loved it while it lasted.

    • It’s funny you mention that! My wife just got a fob like that with her debit card.

      I have one of the Amex Blue cards with the chip in them. I think I’ve tapped to pay maybe twice in the years I’ve had the card? Part of that is most retailers didn’t have the tech to accept it. Another part is I don’t alwasy use my credit card.

      Still, I think digital paying is the next wave. Google is only the first out with a program like this. Once there’s more competition there will be more innovation and it will take off. Will it eliminate physical credit cards? Probably not (at least not for a while).

      • Digital paying is definitely the next wave. So many people have smart phones that it’s an easy move. Dh’s Discover Card fob worked fine for swiping through. Maybe some work differently. We’ll see if the fobs become popular for those without smart phones. I hate to put out the money for a smart phone, but I guess we’ll be using something like that eventually.

        • I think even basic smart phones are going to drop in price. So many are on the market now and they are constantly updating. I’ve seen many that were $0 or low-cost already.

  3. I think it’ll pick up I never understood why the pay pass never picked up

    • I’d guess it’s because there weren’t enough of the readers out there.

      I could swear that I heard that Japan has been paying with cell phones for some time now. The tech is out there, it just needs to be rolled out en masse.

  4. Ethan Wilson says:

    Big hurdle: Phone dying.

    • Yeah, that’s a biggie. I’m not ready to not carry my wallet around (I still need ID anyway), but I think many people are conscious of their cell phone’s battery life and make sure it charged more often than not. At least I look at my battery and charge it every day if needed. Hopefully we’ll see better battery life down the road.

  5. Jenna, Adaptu Community Manager says:

    I would definitely use it. However, I don’t have a Citi Card (and don’t live in NYC or SF).

    • It helps to have a Google Nexus S as well!

      If I had the phone and a compatible card I think I’d give it a shot.

What Do You Think?