Google has rolled out a physical debit card linked to its digital wallet service that will allow users to buy goods at stores or withdraw cash from ATMs.
"Your roommate finally paid you back for dinner through Google Wallet, and you want to use that money right away to pay for groceries this week. Now, you can use the new Google Wallet Card to spend the money instantly," explained Sandra Mariano, product manager of Google Wallet, in a blog post.
The Google Wallet Card will be accepted at millions of MasterCard locations. "Choose either credit or debit at checkout, and if you're prompted for a PIN, enter your Google Wallet PIN," said Mariano. Users can also withdraw cash from ATMs, get cash back with purchases, or get cash over the counter at a bank, she added.
The card will allow users to access funds stored in their Google Wallet accounts. This balance can be topped up either from a linked bank account or credit/debit card; or someone sending money via Google Wallet or Gmail.
Users can order it for free via the latest Google Wallet app or online and expect a 10 to 12-day wait, but it's currently only available in the United States and cannot be used overseas. There are no annual or monthly fees. However, ATM withdrawals could attract charges depending on the bank.
The move is set to make the virtual wallet gain wider adoption and play a bigger role in e-commerce. It will be available for use across various Google services such as purchases on Google Play and YouTube, and holds potential for integration with third party services.
Perhaps not surprisingly, data about transactions on the card will be captured to help Google with its ad targeting, according to Reuters. This will include a description of goods purchased, the amount of the transaction and the name and address of the seller.
The new card comes two years after it launched a credit card called AdWords Business Credit. This aimed at helping business owners free up their cash flow, and could only be spent on AdWords services. It is only available by invitation.
PayPal has a very similar prepaid debit card product, which users with a premier or business account can apply for if they are based in the U.S.
E-commerce players are likely to start looking to offer similarly integrated products, such as in in China where Google and PayPal's services are blocked.
Chinese Internet giant Alibaba currently owns one of the most widely used online payment services in Alipay, a PayPal-like service with an escrow function. In India, American Express has been attempting to bridge the gap from the physical end, with the launch of its own virtual wallet eZeClick in February this year.