Google Wallet enables mobile NFC payments on Android, gives away readers

Google Wallet enables mobile NFC payments on Android, gives away readers

Summary: What's in your old leather wallet? Nothing, if Google and its partners have their way. With a wave of your NFC-enabled Android phone you can pay in a flash, and lose that deck of loyalty cards too.

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When the Nexus S came out it was one of the first phones to have a built-in chip that enables contactless communications mobile payment systems. Today the other shoe dropped with the announcement of Google Wallet and partnerships with MasterCard, Citi, First Data, Sprint, and others.

Here's how it works: You download the Google Wallet app to your NFC-equipped Android phone and pair it with your existing credit card or Google prepaid virtual card. Then you go into any store that accepts MasterCard PayPass and wave your phone in front of the reader when you are checking out. For security, you also have to enter a PIN number on the phone. The amount of your purchase will be charged to your card, even if you don't have a network connection or signal.

Google also announced Google Offers, which is their answer to Groupon. Google Offers are deals on products and services at online and local businesses. The Google Wallet app will download the offers automatically, and it can also store loyalty cards and receipts for participating merchants.

Google Wallet is already supported by any merchant using a PayPass reader. According to Google, over 120K such terminals are in use today just in the US. And to spur further adoption, Google, in partnership with First Data, is offering a free reader and $100 of free processing to new merchants. Normal merchant credit card processing fees apply, but Google does not take a cut or charge anything extra on top of that.

Unfortunately for Android developers, the secure payment APIs and hardware will not be open except to authorized applications:

"Your payment credentials are stored in a chip called the Secure Element contained within your Nexus S 4G. The Secure Element is isolated from your phone’s main operating system and hardware. Only authorized programs like Google Wallet can access the Secure Element to initiate a transaction."

Google, however, is touting the new system as an "open commerce ecosystem:

"Google Wallet will be 'open' in these ways:

  • Google Wallet will support many payment instruments, with the goal being to create virtual versions of all the plastic cards that exist today.
  • Google Wallet will establish APIs that issuing banks can develop for that will make integrating payment instruments into Google Wallet a reasonably straightforward process.
  • Google Wallet will establish APIs to enable transfer of offers, loyalty programs, receipts, and more at the point of sale.
  • Google Wallet can be installed on Nexus S 4G available on Sprint, and potentially over time, other mobile devices and platforms as well."

The new service will be rolled out starting this summer in New York, San Francisco, and Portland on the Sprint Nexus S 4G. Expect to see it expand to more areas and other NFC-enabled Android phones soon afterwards. Payment terminals must be ISO 14443 or 18092 standard.

Suspiciously absent from the announcement was Visa, the world's largest credit and debit card processing company. Rumor has it that Visa will be partnering with Apple on a competing service for the iPhone 5.

Topics: Enterprise Software, Android, Banking, Google, Mobility

Ed Burnette

About Ed Burnette

Ed Burnette is a software industry veteran with more than 25 years of experience as a programmer, author, and speaker. He has written numerous technical articles and books, most recently "Hello, Android: Introducing Google's Mobile Development Platform" from the Pragmatic Programmers.

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17 comments
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  • Beautiful

    Google can give away a free reader to a faux merchant hacker so that the hacker can gin up his own NFC sniffer. Subsidizing hackers, what will Google think of next.

    OK, that was only slightly sarcastic. However, black hat readers are still going to be a huge problem.
    Your Non Advocate
    • RE: Google Wallet enables mobile NFC payments on Android, gives away readers

      @facebook@... and that's why I'll continue sticking to the mag stripe reader.
      Champ_Kind
  • RE: Google Wallet enables mobile NFC payments on Android, gives away readers

    How is this easier than swiping a thin plastic card?
    LoverockDavidson
    • RE: Google Wallet enables mobile NFC payments on Android, gives away readers

      @LoverockDavidson I don't usually agree with Loverock, but he's right in this instance. This is way more of a hassle for everyone involved.
      Aerowind
    • You don't even have to swipe the card anymore

      @LoverockDavidson <br>with the built in chip you just hold your wallet next to reader and your fine.<br><br>No turning on the phone, unlocking the screen, bringing up the app, entering your PIN number into the phone, holding the phone to the reader.<br><br>And what happens if your phone rings while doing all this?
      Will Pharaoh
      • If your phone rings in the middle...

        @Will Pharaoh Then whoever interrupted you should get the charge instead. Now THAT would be a cool feature. :)
        Ed Burnette
      • LOL! If they add that feature, Ed

        @Will Pharaoh

        Then I'm all for it!
        :)
        Will Pharaoh
    • Re: How is this easier

      @LoverockDavidson I was kind of thinking the same thing. Maybe once it supports multiple credit cards, loyalty cards, and does local offers it will be worth it. An open API would help too, if it didn't compromise security.
      Ed Burnette
    • RE: Google Wallet enables mobile NFC payments on Android, gives away readers

      @LoverockDavidson Too bad there's not a Like button here, because I'd be clicking it repeatedly.
      Champ_Kind
    • RE: Google Wallet enables mobile NFC payments on Android, gives away readers

      @LoverockDavidson My Nexus S is always in my pocket. My "thin plastic cards" are in a wallet, which is in my purse. I am disabled and walk with crutches, so getting both hands free to get out wallet and "thin plastic card" can sometimes be a challenge. THAT'S how it's easier.
      spookyone1
  • doesn't replace your wallet yet

    Unfortunately this doesn't make either paying any easier or remove the need for people to carry their real wallets. We can't store our ID in it, nor can we put other random cards.. or condoms for that matter.
    Htalk
    • RE: Google Wallet enables mobile NFC payments on Android, gives away readers

      @Hobyx +1 LIKE!
      lelandhendrix@...
  • So how long until the black hats decide

    to hack Android to pieces through toxic websites, bad apps, and all that other fun stuff, just to get your payment information?
    Champ_Kind
    • RE: Google Wallet enables mobile NFC payments on Android, gives away readers

      @Champ_Kind I don't get this concern. Black hats have not targeted qther Linux derivatives, why single out Android?
      spookyone1
  • I've got a Nexus S 4G - Not seeing Google Wallet in the Marketplace?

    How can I get this, it's not showing up in the Android marketplace?
    lordryder
    • RE: Google Wallet enables mobile NFC payments on Android, gives away readers

      @lordryder It's not released yet. You can sign up here http://www.google.com/wallet/ to be notified when it is available.

      How do you like your Nexus S 4G? Sprint's speed was steadily declining in my area (no 4G and 3G had deteriorated to <0.02Mbps!) And Sprint advised me that it was due to an upgrade in progress. It would be improved by December. I opted to get an unlocked Nexus S and go prepaid with a local T Mo affiliate. For $50 less, I've lost NO bfunctionality. If I had decent Sprint coverage I'd have stayed; their customer service is great. But spending the better part of a year with no usable data access was not an option. I'm LOVINGmt Nexus S!
      spookyone1
  • RE: Google Wallet enables mobile NFC payments on Android, gives away readers

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