Google planned to revolutionize the way we make payments with its mobile wallet service. Google Wallet has failed to find mainstream success, however, and has been downloaded from the Play store fewer than 10 million times since first launching in September 2011. According to a report from Bloomberg Businessweek, Google has invested more than $300 million to help develop the app and service, which remains a niche product that is actually losing money; Osama Bedier, the former head of Google Wallet, revealed that Google loses money on every transaction due to the high fees the company is forced to pay to credit card companies. All of the blame cannot be put on Google, though. Wallet has been blacklisted at Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile, each of which have backed rival payment solution ISIS. Without support from the carriers, Google might never be able to turn Wallet around and its fate may already be decided.
A new report suggests that Google will unveil an update to its forgotten Wallet service later this month. According to AllThingsD, Google was originally planning to introduce a physical credit card at its annual I/O developers event, however it has since decided against it. The company will now reportedly announce new rewards, offers and loyalty points for Wallet users available from a wider selection of merchants to help the service better compete with Apple’s Passbook. Google’s vision of creating a mobile wallet has been hampered by carriers, which have favored an alternative mobile payment system known as ISIS. The lack of NFC-equipped devices and the limited number of compatible merchant sales terminals have also hurt Google’s efforts. A physical card would have allowed Google to bring its Wallet service to the masses, however CEO Larry Page was said to be displeased with a recent demo and decided to scrap the project.
Launched in May 2011, Google Wallet was supposed to revolutionize shopping and replace cash and credit cards with NFC-enabled smartphones. While the idea was and still is ambitious, Google (GOOG) Wallet has been hampered by the reluctance of retailers and small businesses to upgrade their point-of-sale systems to support NFC. Last week, Android Police published what were alleged screenshots of Google’s plans for a “Google Wallet card” (GWC). Unlike the Google Wallet app for Android smartphones, the GWC doesn’t have any kind of NFC tech in it. It reportedly works just like the Google Wallet app and stores all of your credit cards in it, only you swipe it at checkout. More →
Google (GOOG) on Monday announced that it will discontinue its prepaid card option on its Google Wallet platform in October. The Internet giant revealed that because users can now add any credit or debit card to the service, its prepaid cards are no longer necessary. Users will be unable to activate or add funds to an existing card starting on September 17th and all cards will be discontinued a month later on October 17th. The Mountain View-based company will allow users to request a refund if there are remaining funds on the card after it is discontinued. More →
Google (GOOG) may not want people to think that it’s copying Apple (AAPL) in the wake of the Apple v. Samsung (005930) patent trial verdict, but it does seem that the company is taking a page from Apple’s playbook with some of its planned updates for Google Wallet. MobileBurn reports that Google Wallet product manager Robin Dua says that the company wants to update its Wallet software to store and display “boarding passes, identification cards, and everything you’d find in a normal wallet.” Apple debuted many similar features with the Passbook mobile wallet application that it introduced with iOS 6 back in June. More →
Google (GOOG) on Wednesday announced an update to its Google Wallet app that allows users to add any credit or debit card to their smartphone or tablet. “To support all credit and debit cards, we changed our technical approach to storing payment cards,” the Internet giant wrote on its website. “The Google Wallet app now stores your payment cards on highly secure Google servers, instead of in the secure storage area on your phone. A wallet ID (virtual card number) is stored in the secure storage area of the phone, and this is used to facilitate transactions at the point of sale. Google instantly charges your selected credit or debit card. This new approach speeds up the integration process for banks so they can add their cards to the Wallet app in just a few weeks.” The update will also allow users to remotely disable their mobile wallets online, although Google advises users to set up a screen lock as an extra layer of security. Google Wallet is available for use at more than 200,000 retail locations across the U.S. through six phones from Sprint (S) and Virgin Mobile, as well as the company’s new flagship Nexus 7 tablet. More →
You won’t find Google Wallet, officially, on any of the smartphones offered by Verizon Wireless (VZ), not even the Galaxy Nexus. In fact, you won’t find Google Wallet on any smartphone offered by T-Mobile (DTE) or AT&T (T) either — the only carrier that supports Google’s (GOOG) mobile payment platform is Sprint (S). Other wireless service providers have backed a mobile payment competitor known as ISIS, and have blocked Google Wallet from devices that run on their networks. Despite this speed bump, hackers have found a way to enable the service on select handsets such as the Galaxy Nexus and Samsung’s (005930) latest flagship smartphone, the Galaxy S III. The device will of course have to be rooted, and after a slight tweak to the build.prop and the installation of a zip file, users will be able to make purchases using Google Wallet. A video demonstration follows below. More →
Developers who work on mobile payment platforms should start hitting the panic button: Esteemed hacker Charlie Miller is about to mess them up. Dark Reading reports that Miller’s presentation at Black Hat USA this year “will show just how dangerous it can be to pay cabfare with your mobile device, as he demonstrates vulnerabilities he discovered in emerging near-field communications (NFC) technology.” More →
Last week it was rumored that Sprint was investing in its own payment platform that would reportedly replace Google’s Wallet service. According to internal documents obtained by Android Central, the nation’s third largest carrier will do exactly that. The service, which is confirmed to be called Sprint Touch, is very similar to Google Wallet, requiring users to to enter a passcode and tapp the phone on a point of sale terminal to pay. Based on the slides, McDonald’s, Barnes and Noble, Macy’s, Target, Best Buy and others look to be on board, offering loyalty cards or even accepting full payments, although the companies may have just been used as examples in the presentation. It is unclear which banks have partnered with the carrier at this point to support its upcoming service. Sprint Touch is rumored to arrive as early as this summer. A second image follows below. More →
Google’s Wallet service has seen numerous setbacks since its initial launch last May. The platform was rejected by AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon, all of which opted to support the ISIS payment system instead, and has lived a quiet life on a small number of Sprint smartphones. This may not be the case in the near future, however. The nation’s third largest carrier is reportedly planning to launch its own NFC mobile wallet solution as soon as this summer, according to NFC Times. The service, called Touch, will allow Sprint to build relationships with banks and other service providers while controlling security measures, API distribution and development. Due to restrictions with the secure element on an NFC chip, Sprint will be unable to support both Google Wallet and it’s Touch service, the report said. Google is said to be revamping its own wallet strategy and will focus more on cloud-based payments, according to the website’s sources. More →
Sprint on Monday announced the availability of the Samsung Galaxy Nexus. The Android 4.0 handset can be pre-ordered today and will be available beginning Sunday, April 22nd for $199.99 with a new two-year agreement. “Galaxy Nexus is a beautifully designed smartphone that combines the Pure Google experience with the speed of Sprint’s upcoming 4G LTE network,” said Fared Adib, Sprint’s vice president of product development. “It represents the cutting-edge features and applications that customers expect and pairs perfectly with Sprint’s unlimited data plans to let our customers enjoy their wireless experience without worrying about overage charges or throttling.” As an extra bonus, Sprint is offering customers who register a Google Wallet account within a week of activating their devices a $10 instant credit, along with an additional $40 of credit to be delivered within three weeks. Customers who pre-order the Galaxy Nexus will begin receiving the device as early as Friday, April 20th. Read on for Sprint’s press release. More →
Global sales of NFC-equipped smartphones increased tenfold to 30 million units in 2011, according to a report from Berg Insight. The research firm estimates that by 2016 there will more than 700 million handsets with NFC capabilities. In 2011, several leading handset vendors released more than 40 NFC-enabled devices. “Even though it will take some time before the stakeholders agree on business models for payment networks, other use cases such as reading tags and easy pairing of devices may well be compelling enough for handset vendors to integrate NFC in mid- and high-end devices already today,” said André Malm, a senior analyst at Berg Insight. Google has already launched its Wallet service, as Apple, AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile ready their own payment platforms. Previous estimates stated that more than 50% of all smartphones will be NFC enabled in the next two to three years with the help of Apple’s upcoming iPhone, which has long been rumored to include the technology. Read on for Berg Insight’s press release. More →
Google temporarily disabled the use of prepaid cards with its Wallet service last month as a precautionary measure following the discovery of several security threats. In an email obtained by Droid-Life, Google announced that its Wallet service has been updated and the newest version allows users to again add prepaid cards. “We are happy to announce that you can now add the Google Prepaid Card back to your wallet with the newest version of Google Wallet, and any funds that you previously had on the card should be restored, unless you contacted Money Network and asked for a refund of those funds,” the email read. “To add the Google Prepaid Card back, you will first need to update your Google Wallet application to the most recent version.” The company acknowledged the inconvenience of the situation and will credit Wallet users with an additional $5 for their patience. Google’s email follows below. More →