Last week, Google announced that its Google Wallet platform would begin accepting all credit cards instead of just Citibank and MasterCard PayPass cards. However, people will still need to have one of six Sprint or Virgin phones to use Google Wallet – so iPhone users are out of luck.
Credit card users eager to leave behind their wallet full of plastic and move into the virtual realm will be glad to hear that as of August 1, Google Wallet is now accepting all types of credit cards.
Previously, the mobile wallet could only be used with Citibank and MasterCard PayPass cards, but now it can accept all types of credit cards, debit cards, and even gift cards. Users simply download the app and input their card information, and then they can pay using the cards anywhere that has a PayPass reader.
Who Can Use Google Wallet?
People with five types of phone can download the App for their Android operating systems, on the Google Play store. The Galaxy Nexus, LG Viper, LG Optimus, HTC EVO 4G, and Samsung Galaxy S3 phones – which run using either Sprint, AT&T, Virgin Mobile and T-Mobile – can be used with Google Wallet.
Apple’s iPhone is still not compatible with Google Wallet, and it’s not clear whether it will ever be, since Apple is working to adapt its own mobile and virtual payment modules.
The number of retailers that have a PayPass-enabled checkout is growing rapidly – already major retailers like Macy’s, Foot Locker, 7-11, Whole Foods Market, Jamba Juice, Walgreens and some larger grocery stores and drugstores have them. Smaller businesses like boutiques and restaurants often do not have the capability to accept PayPass payments, but the number of restaurants and shops that have this technology will probably grow over the next several years, as virtual wallets become more common and demand increases.
Google says that about 200,000 stores can accept Google Wallets payments currently, and Google even has partnerships with 25 different retailers – Macy’s and Jamba Juice among them – to give users discounts and loyalty rewards.
Using a credit card that already offers cash back has the potential to pay off twice if using it with Google Wallet gives Google rewards on top of card-issuer rebates.
Cloudy with a Chance of Credit
Another big change is in the way the app stores and accesses information. Google Wallet used to store credit card information in the phone’s memory itself. Now data is uploaded to the “cloud” or virtual storage system, making it easier to access information from anywhere without the actual phone in hand.
When payment information was contained in the phone itself, Google had to get permission from issuing banks and mobile carriers, which was why they could only accept a limited number of cards. By moving to the cloud system, Google no longer has to negotiate with mobile and credit card companies, allowing them to accept all cards.
Robin Dua, head of product management for Google Wallet, explains why Google made the change to the cloud: “We realized this was not going to be a very scalable model and it would literally take a lifetime to complete all that work.”
Storing data in the cloud also means that if a phone is lost or stolen, users can go online and turn off access to the Google Wallet app so it cannot be used via phone.
This ability to disable Google Wallet should ease the fears of people nervous about the whole idea of virtual wallets. Any new idea brings apprehension for new users, particularly when it has to do with finances, but Google assures users that their information will be safe.
As time and technology march forward, mobile and virtual payments continue to be the wave of the future.