SlashGear 101: What is Google Wallet?

May 27, 2011
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SlashGear 101: What is Google Wallet?

You may not have heard much about Google Wallet, but it could have a very big impact on your future. It's also one of the most exciting announcements to come from Google. Even though you might guess Google Wallet helps you search for things in your actual wallet, you'd be quite wrong. If Google has their way, their Wallet would allow you to pay for almost anything by using your mobile phone. No sliding cards, no waiting for checks to clear, just a quick and easy way to transfer money. We'll let you know how this would actually take place, right after the break!

A Brief History

The concept of money has continually evolved over the ages. First came standardized currency. This was a lot more efficient than bartering with physical goods, but carrying around large sums of coin was bothersome and dangerous. Checks stepped onto the scene as a far more conveniet way to make large payments and avoid carrying around lots of money. The only downside was that you had to wait for checks to clear. After electronics became more prevalent, the credit card took center stage. It could be accepted or rejected almost instantly and it was small and convenient to carry. But now Google thinks it has a better way.

How does it work?

Google Wallet is a combination of 3 things. First of all, you need the Google Wallet app on your mobile phone. Secondly, you would need a phone that is Near Field Communicator ready. Essentially, this is a device that can send information short distances without the need of wires. Unfortunately, this technology is just now entering the mobile phone market. Thankfully, Google has a sticker that would add NFC capability to almost any phone. The last thing you would need is a store that accepts payment with Google Wallet. The stores themselves will also need a special NFC to accept your payment, which will make the number of stores using Google Wallet pretty sparse. The more popular Google Wallet becomes, the more stores will invest in the technology. Luckily American Eagle, Subway and Macy’s are already on board, so you won’t go hungry or naked if all you have is your Google Wallet.

What Other Benefits Does It Have?

Google Wallet has a huge benefit for retailers and consumers alike. Any retailer would be able to make a coupon, right inside the Google Wallet App. You could then search for coupons and save them in your Wallet. When you go to check out, the coupon would be applied automatically. Hopefully retailers will actually take advantage of this feature, because if great coupons were available in Google Wallet, people would be far more likely to use it, rather than pulling out a credit card. Another benefit is how fast and easy payment would be. Check out this post to see how easy it is. There's also the benefits of not carrying a wallet stuffed with credit cards.

Do you need an Android Phone to Use Google Wallet?

At the moment, yes. But if Google wants to make Google Wallet a truly universal experience, every phone on the market will need access to the Google Wallet app. Even though Google would be willing to share, other phone makers might not like the idea of Google Wallet being on their phone. Google had this same problem with Google Maps. Even though it was one of the best map apps around, it wasn't available on all phones. Eventually demand was strong enough, and Google Maps can be found on pretty much any device. The public generally gets what the public wants, so as long as Google Wallet is good enough, it should have no problem spreading to other devices.

Should you use it?

There are some obvious setbacks at the moment, such as getting a phone with NFC, and having access to the app itself. There also needs to be more stores willing to install NFC readers, and Google will need to make it really easy for people to get and NFC sticker for their non-NFC enabled phone. The good news is that none of those hurdles are insurmountable, especially with Google's resources. I would use Google Wallet in a heartbeat if I could. There are also some really neat features that could be implemented in the future. Imagine an alert popping up on your phone when you check out at America Eagle. “You are $30 away from your $100 clothing budget. This purchase will put you over $22. Continue?” and I’m sure Subway paid with a phone is way better than Subway paid with a credit card!

ALSO keep up with the latest Google Wallet news at this portal. What's your opinion? Are you all for Google's way of making payments, or are you sticking with the good old plastic?


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