Google Wallet Adds Gift Card Management, Free Debit Card P2P (July 21, 2014)
As Google Wallet continues to experiment, the latest evolution adds a new gift card management function and removes fees on debit card-based P2P money transfers made via the wallet.
In a post on a company blog, Google said wallet users now can add gift cards from participating retailers to the wallet app by snapping a picture of the card or entering the card info, then make in-store payments by showing a barcode displayed on the phone. Electronic gift cards from some retailers also can be saved directly to the wallet. Participating merchants include Best Buy, Nike, TGI Friday’s and Whole Foods. Google previously offered NFC redemption for gift and loyalty cards, but discontinued the function in August 2013.
Google Wallet also is making changes to its P2P funds transfer feature, eliminating the 2.9 percent fee on debit card-based transfers and adding the ability to send payment requests to individuals within the Google Wallet app or over Gmail. Credit card transfers still will carry the 2.9 percent fee. P2P transfer is among the most promising contenders to become the thus-far-elusive “killer app” for mobile wallets. In a recent study by Nielsen, nearly three-fourths of respondents said P2P was especially useful for splitting restaurant bills when dining out in groups.
Google has been tinkering with its eponymous mobile wallet since shortly after its 2011 launch. In September 2012, the company discontinued the proprietary prepaid card that had been included with the wallet—only to replace it with a MasterCard-branded companion prepaid card in late 2013. Earlier this year, Google announced that only Android phones running the latest operating system, KitKat, would support contactless payments using the wallet. Observers saw the move as a possible acceleration of Google Wallet’s shift toward Host Card Emulation.
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