Google Wallet update adds support for storing and sharing ID cards, docs

The decade-old platform is turning into a one-stop solution for storing your IDs, credit cards, transit passes, and more.
Written by Michael Gariffo, Staff Writer

Google announced a major revamp to its Google Wallet platform that will turn it into a catch-all destination for your ID cards, payment cards, access badges, and much more. 

The massive expansion of its capabilities will see it crossing over with Google Pay, which will remain a discrete service in the US, India, and Singapore. The other 40 countries where Google Pay is available will see their localized versions of the app and platform replaced by a unified Google Wallet app. Those in the trio of aforementioned countries, however, will still be able to pay at POS terminals with the credit cards they have stored in either app. 

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Google hopes you'll use Google Wallet to do more than just duplicate part of Google Pay's functionality. It intends for the app to become a secure digital storage space for your government and commercially-issued ID cards, school IDs, contactless access badges, vaccine records, and even your car keys for vehicles that support smartphone-based keyless entry technologies. 

According to the company, all of the captured data for a user's documents will be stored locally on the user's device. It will live behind the user's chosen screen-locking method, and it can be remotely wiped via Android's Find My Device service (if the device in question is lost or stolen). Google also noted that a user's "financial institution will verify who [they] are before [they] can add a card to [their] phone," meaning it should be difficult for an unauthorized user to pay for something with your card by adding it to their own Google Wallet. 

Like Apple before it, Google said that it is working with multiple states and international governments to bring support for officially issued documents to the service. 

More: iPhones will soon accept contactless payments via Tap to Pay for iPhone

All of these stored documents will also be shareable via either QR code or NFC-based interactions, meaning it will be possible to unlock a door, confirm your identity, verify your vaccination status, or scan your boarding pass by simply presenting your display or tapping your smartphone or smartwatch.

The company plans to further expand the usability of added documents by developing integrations for other Google Apps. It provided the example of a user searching for transit directions in Google Maps and having the necessary transit card's balance appear on screen, helping them make sure they have adequate funds for the required fare. 

The new Google Wallet functionality will receive extremely broad support across Google's ecosystem. Any device running a version of Android newer than the downright geriatric Android 5.0 (Lollipop) and any device at all running Wear OS will gain support for it when it goes live. 

Google did not provide a precise date for when the expanded Google Wallet would launch. 

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