Google Wallet Connects to iPhone (Sept. 19, 2013)
Google Wallet has cracked the iPhone barrier, proving, some would say, there’s no reason to wait for NFC to advance mobile payments. The Google Wallet app for iOS includes all the features of Google Wallet’s latest app update, with new capabilities for storing merchant offers and loyalty cards within the app, Brian Kravitz, product manager for Google Wallet, announced in a blog post today. Coming aboard with Apple could significantly expand Google Wallet’s audience, observers note. Though Google continues to support NFC, the technology’s urgency seems to be fading. Apple has conspicuously avoided supporting NFC, including in its newest generation of handsets. And PayPal recently has made significant moves into enabling hands-free payments with its own new PayPal Beacon POS technology, raising questions about the need for NFC as mobile payments—and digital wallet development—evolve.
Google Wallet’s new app capabilities announced earlier this week, available to both iOS and Android users, overlap with a few of the redesigned features PayPal made available with its own digital wallet update announced last week, including smoothing the path for users to make P2P payments. Google Wallet users also may begin sending money via Gmail from a computer desktop, a feature still not available to all Gmail users, according to Google.
Google Wallet users now may capture discounts and offers from Google Maps, Google Search, Google+ or Google Offers and view or redeem them within the Google Wallet app at checkout, a key change. Users may still tap to pay, but are confined to using selected NFC-enabled handsets from Sprint, Virgin Mobile, US Cellular or Metro PCS, as AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile continue to ban Google Wallet, citing security issues. Those three telecom giants separately support Isis, a rival NFC-based mobile wallet. But Google Wallet still holds a candle for NFC, noting that users may tap to pay on one of 29 different NFC-enabled devices. More NFC devices are in the pipeline “as we continue to invest in NFC with our partners,” Peter Hazlehurst, Google Wallet director of product management, promised in a blog post earlier this week.