Commentary

Google Wallet & the Move Past Portable Payments

Mobile wallets are starting to become more like wallets.

For the longest time, the idea of a mobile wallet was either linked to or somewhat synonymous with mobile payments.

In the context of those conversations, NFC (Near Field Communications) tended to be included as part of the payment conversation.

Google’s latest move in mobile wallets now makes the wallet act more like a wallet without the incessant focus on it as a portable payment mechanism.

Sure, the new version of the Android Wallet app lets consumers send money to each other and still use it for payment.

However, Google has very smartly and finally disaggregated NFC from the process. And it has added wallet-type features, such as the ability to store loyalty cards and link to loyalty programs.

When I used Google Wallet by tapping my phone at a vending machine almost two years ago, the NFC features worked perfectly.

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But most phones don’t have NFC, although somewhere in the neighborhood of 500 million phones are projected to ship with it included next year, though not Apple, of course.

Since those early Wallet NFC days, Verizon and AT&T essentially shut off Wallet, so many who had lost it, until now.

The wallet also comes with deals and offers based on location all tied rather neatly together.

The revised Google Wallet now looks and acts more like a mobile shopping companion that can be used throughout the Mobile Shopping Life Cycle, not just at the end where payment occurs.

And that is a much larger picture than mobile payments.

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