Google just announced Google Wallet and Google Offers at a press event in New York. The company has partnered with Citi, Mastercard, First Data, Subway, Macy’s, Walgreens, Toys ‘R Us, Sprint and a bunch of other companies to bring this service to customers.
To use the service, you’ll need to install the Google Wallet app on your Android device. From there, you can add as many credit cards, loyalty cards and gift cards as you want — initially only Citi Bank’s credit cards and the Google Prepaid Card are supported. From there, the process is pretty much straightforward, just select which credit card you’d like to pay with, and tap your phone to the point-of-sale device. That’s it.
As soon as Google Wallet becomes available, it will work wherever MasterCard PayPass is supported. Being able to use Google Wallet at over 300,000 locations right from launch, will hugely improve the chances that Google Wallet gains a lot of momentum very fast.
Google also took the opportunity to announce Google Offers. Which has been in beta testing for residents of Portland, OR for a while now. Google Offers will be tightly integrated into Google Wallet. You’ll be able to look for Google Offers from Google Search, Maps, Latitude, Shopper, and Google Offers itself. Once you find an offer that you’re interested in, just save it and it’ll automatically appear on your Google Wallet Android app.
Once it’s time to pay, Google Wallet will automatically calculate the discounted price and pay with just one single tap. Putting an end to the hassle of finding coupons on a magazine, saving them, cutting them, and then finally showing it to the cashier.
Finally, the whole service it’s wrapped up with a whole lot of security features. First, there’s the Google Wallet PIN, which you’ll need to enter every time you fire off the Google Wallet app. On top of that, Google has worked with OEMs to develop a special chip inside smartphones called the Secure Element. The chip protects all the data that’s stored inside Google Wallet.
Google describes the Secure Element as: “… a separate computer, capable of running programs and storing data. The Secure Element is separate from your Android phone’s memory. The chip is designed to only allow trusted programs on the Secure Element itself to access the payment credentials stored therein.”
Google doesn’t want to stop at just credit cards, though. The company said during the event that this is just the beginning for Google Wallet. In the future, the company plans to add “boarding passes, tickets, ID and keys” to Google Wallet, officially killing physical wallets forever.
Initially, the service will be only available for Sprint’s Nexus S 4G users. But Google said that it’ll be coming to a lot more Android devices in the future — that support NFC, of course. How do you guys feel about your phone now becoming your wallet (and possibly also your keys)? Are you ready to let Google have all this information? Let us know in the comments.