Even though the physical version of Google Wallet may have been axed a month or so before Google I/O, that still didn’t make the service a no-show at the annual developer conference.
Google has added some interesting features to the digital wallet, including a way to make payments directly through Gmail and the addition of more compatible Android devices.
The real question is can Google really get some penetration into the US with Wallet, currently Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile do not support Wallet and will not allow users to download it.
Payments within email
Google allows payments through Gmail via Google Wallet, the user signs up for a Google Wallet account and then the $ sign will appear whenever the user is sending an email.
Even though a Google Wallet account is required by both parties, the receiver does not need a Google Gmail account. Google will allow free transactions through Google Wallet or a bank account, but those with a linked debit or credit card will have to pay a flat fee of 2.9%.
Gmail payments are currently only available through desktop and will be rolling out to Google account users over 18. Google did not say when they would unveil mobile Gmail payments.
It is also unknown whether this will make it out the US anytime soon, Google gave no word on Europe or Asia and money analysts are already calling the service unsafe.
Expanded device range
Google Wallet now works on more devices, including the Samsung Galaxy S4, Samsung Galaxy Note II and HTC One on Sprint and the Samsung Galaxy Note II on US Cellular, they plan to release a few more devices soon on Sprint.
Currently, only one of the four major carriers in the US works with Google Wallet and the three others have been actively trying to stop the launch, with FCC rules and regulations.
This has made Google Wallet’s move into the US very slow and time-consuming and we expect the worst is yet to come, as Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile are all backing ISIS as the standard for mobile payments.
ISIS is currently a pilot program in Austin and Salt Lake City, Verizon has been very open about making sure users do not get Google Wallet NFC payments and have blocked users from downloading the app from Google Play.
According to Verizon, Google Wallet uses a secure and proprietary piece of hardware, which PayPal and Square do not. We believe Verizon would be willing to let Wallet on the Verizon devices if the carrier got more say overpayments.
Issues surrounding NFC
Google has axed lots of ideas simply because it wasn’t worth the time or money being spent. Google Reader was axed simply because it was not bringing in enough revenue.
We suspect Google is wondering what the future can be for NFC, with all the regulations against Google Wallet in the United States.
Even though NFC is still very much in its baby steps, carriers may try and keep it from blossoming or they will work on their own version of NFC mobile payments, to make sure they have some income from the new technology.