September 20, 2011

Google released its Google Wallet mobile payment system this week, which works with Citi-Mastercards and the Google Prepaid Card, meaning that you can make a payment simply by tapping or waving your phone over one of the PayPass systems located at your point of purchase.

This is very similar to Barclays Contactless debit and credit cards, which you can swipe over the traditional chip and pin machine to make a payment, but the Google Wallet features a fantastic new element called SingleTap – which combines users’ coupons, loyalty cards and the payment method all in the one tap.

By downloading the Google Offers app (which allows you to browse the latest deals available to you) directly to your Google Wallet you can make a payment with your chosen payment method, apply a coupon you’ve saved and add the purchase to your loyalty card for that particular store or outlet.

Although the process appears to be seamless and a great alternative to carrying around a purse or wallet full of different cards, Google Wallet will only work if you have the screen on and the phone unlocked. Plus, if you haven’t used your Google Wallet for a while you will be asked to enter your unlock code before you can use it again. Also, as there are only certain types of cards which can be tied into the Google Wallet process, it doesn’t guarantee that your card will work with the system.

As with any wireless payment method, Google has a good deal of security in place to prevent fraud, and they have also added an extra layer of protection for your Google wallet with their Secure Element which works with standard smartphones.

Privacy is another big issue with the Google Wallet, as many people wouldn’t like the idea of Google knowing what they were buying – so the good news is that for now Google does not keep track of local transactions made with your Google Wallet. So if you look at your Wallet history you will only see a date, and amount and an approximate location, which only you can view.  

The one main critique which comes from this privacy issue is that receipts are still given in paper versions to you at the till, the receipts for your purchases are not yet stored within the Google Wallet app.

Once more big name financial institutions come on board with this system I can see Google Wallet really taking off, and this is sure to be the start of big changes in the mobile technology industry – that much is clear to see.



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