Google Wallet, which will allow people to tap or swipe their phones to pay for things, officially launches today on its first smartphone, the Samsung Nexus S offered on Sprint Nextel.
While several other companies, including credit card giants Visa and American Express, as well as mobile wireless carriers, have also announced plans to launch their own digital wallets, Google is the first to take its digital wallet to market.
Citibank, MasterCard, and Sprint are the initial launch partners for the service. What this means for users is that, initially, virtually the only credit cards that will work with Google Wallet are Citibank MasterCards. Google is also offering a Google Prepaid MasterCard as well, a workaround for people who may not have a Citibank MasterCard. People who want to use this card can preload money from other credit cards onto the Google prepaid card. And then they can make purchases using the phone.
Sprint is the first official carrier partner since it is the carrier offering the Nexus S 4G. But as other Android smartphones equipped with NFC (near-field communications) technology come on the market, other devices on other carriers will eventually be able to use the service too.
Google also said today that it has licensed NFC technology from other major credit card companies: American Express, Visa, and Discover. This means that upcoming versions of Google Wallet will support those credit cards as well.
"In the future, our goal is to make it possible for you to add all of your payment cards to Google Wallet, so you can say goodbye to even the biggest traditional wallets," said Osama Bedier, vice president of payments at Google.… Read more