Google, Inc. is teaming up with Sprint, Citi, MasterCard and First Data to provide a mobile app that will enable smart phones to serve as wallets.
Google Wallet will provide convenience and savings, says Google, because shoppers can redeem coupons, earn loyalty points and pay for purchases through a new “open commerce ecosystem.” The new landscape also has the potential to change the relationship with banks and consumers, who will be offered a new, hybrid credit product as an alternative to traditional debit and credit cards.
The app, now in field tests in New York and San Francisco, will be available to consumers in the summer, the company says. Google Wallet will offer two ways to pay, a PayPass eligible Citi MasterCard and a virtual Google Prepaid card. NFC, or near field communication, will allow consumers to shop by tapping their phone on PayPass-enabled terminals at checkout.
“Today, we’ve joined with leaders in the industry to build the next generation of mobile commerce,” said Stephanie Tilenis, vice president of commerce and payments at Google, in a prepared statement announcing the coming app.
Google says it is also developing a “Single Tap shopping experience” that will allow consumers to pay for a purchase, redeem specially generated coupons and earn loyalty points all with a single tap of Google Wallet. Companies involved in the venture include VeriFone, Hypercom, Ingenico, and VIVOTech. Diverse retailers such as American Eagle Outfitters, Duane Reade, Macy’s, Einstein Bros. Bagels, and Toys “R” Us, are part of the partnership.
“Google Wallet allows us to harness the power of mobile technology to enhance our in-store shopping experience and helps bridge the gap between our online and in-store consumer interactions,” said Martine Reardon, executive vice-president of marketing and advertising at Macy’s.
Google says it plans to release the new shopping app on the Sprint Nextel network using the Nexus S 4G phone, the only Android smartphone that includes an NFC chip, said American Banker. Peter Ho, product manager for card services and consumer lending at Wells Fargo & Co., told American Banker that the new app “changes the game a little bit.”
“Suddenly the bank is no longer the owner of the wallet, like it or not,” Ho said. “If we want to play, we kind of have to be part of this mixed wallet or this open wallet because that’s about the only way we’re going to be able to get onto that phone.”
Consumers who want to follow the release of the product can sign up for notification on www.google.com/wallet.