Ever since Google launched the Samsung Nexus S that has a Near Field Communication (NFC) chip, there has been speculation about whether Google would have a mobile payment system. Today in partnership with Citi, Mastercard, First Data, and Sprint, Google announced the Google Wallet, an app that uses NFC to make payments, effectively turning Android smartphones into wallets.
With NFC, users will be able to make payments by simply tapping their phone on a cash register or receiver. You might have seen the Mastercard PayPass receivers at various retail locations, and the Google Wallet app will work with it, which provides a significant number of places were you will be able to pay for items using a phone. Google is providing a web site where you can enter a zip code to see the retail locations near you where you will be able to use Google Wallet.
Google Wallet will also support loyalty programs, providing a way to get rid of all the plastic key tags and cards that we carry. Your loyalty program information will be stored on your phone and transmitted via NFC to the retailer at the time of purchase. Amongst the retailer loyality programs participating are Walgreens, Subway, and RadioShack.
Payments will be made either through Citi Mastercard or a Google Prepaid Card, which will most likely be provided by Citi Mastercard. One thing I find interesting about Google’s announcement is the exclusive availability of the app to the Sprint Nexus S 4G.
I assume that because the Sprint version of the Nexus S is new, Google is providing them with a period of time of exclusive availability of Google Wallet for promotional purposes. Because payments are not being handled via carrier billing, there is no reason why the T-Mobile version of the Nexus S also can not run Google Wallet.
Google has not provided the date for when Google Wallet will be available, but you can sign up to receive a notification email from Google when it is available. Trials are beginning in New York and San Francisco, and the full release will occur this summer.