The notion of paying for items with your smartphone is not a new notion. The possibility of this technology surfaced some time ago. Even though reports pertaining to smartphone payments riled up crowds and interested consumers, smartphone payments never panned out – until today, that is.
Google is all set to launch Google Wallet: a new service that aims to take the place of your wallet. Rumor has it that Google Wallet will launch today (September 19, 2011) across the United States. This rumor has yet to be confirmed, though sources are strong. Regardless of the launch date, Google Wallet may revolutionize the way that we pay for everyday items.
What Is Google Wallet?
Simply put, Google Wallet is a virtual wallet that’s stored inside of your smartphone. Instead of whipping out any number of plastic cards when you want to pay for an item, Google Wallet will store all of these cards and card info for you. All you have to do, is swipe or tap your smartphone against a special Google Wallet reader that select retailers will soon have.
The concept of Google Wallet sounds great. But, there are some drawbacks. These drawbacks may be too large for even the search giant to leap over, but time will soon tell. What are the drawbacks that I’m speaking of? For starters, you have to have a specific smartphone in order to use the Google Wallet service (at the time of this writing).
Google Wallet Drawbacks
Presently, the only smartphone that can handle Google Wallet payments is the Nexus S smartphone. If you have this phone, you might be able to use the Google Wallet service – but the right smartphone isn’t all you’ll need. You will also need to be hooked up with MasterCard’s PayPal system. If you don’t have PayPass right now, Google has stated that the company plans to work out an agreement with Citi MasterCard too.
Google will also offer a Google PrePaid Card to consumers.
Details about this card have not yet been released. So, aside from these drawbacks, I’m looking at an even bigger problem: credit cards. Unless you’re on top of your credit card payments, using Google Wallet means (for a lot of people) sinking into further credit card debt. Now, Google may make a debit card option possible, but this has yet to be seen.
The last problem with Google Wallet is that it might not work anywhere other than the U.S. Many of the credit card options mentioned aren’t available in other countries, but this is something that Google will likely work on. So, are there any benefits to Google Wallet?
The first benefit is an obvious one: you won’t have to carry around a wallet that’s packed with plastic. The second benefit is that Google Wallet may be able to keep track of gift cards and other retail cards – this would be a huge bonus, since these cards can be cumbersome. Who knows, it may even be possible to send a gift card directly to someone’s phone within the near future.
Other Smartphones Following Suit
Rumor has it that Apple may be equipping the new iPhone 5 with near-field communication technology (the same technology that the Nexus S has). This would make it possible for Apple to easily transition into touch and go payments of some kind. Will Apple work with Google? Who knows. But, there’s no doubt that paying for items with your wallet will be the next popular form of quick payment.