UK expectations for Google Wallet: Great idea, busted flush

Google Wallet could be brought to the UK in time for the 2012 Olympics. While the mobile payment application is a great idea, it might not stick with the Brits.
Written by Zack Whittaker, Contributor on

Rumours circulating over the past week suggest that Google could be set to launch its mobile payment service in the UK in time for the 2012 Olympic Games.

Reports suggest that the search giant is in talks with a number of UK companies to bring the NFC-enabled mobile payment system to the UK early next year.

Google Wallet was launched in the United States a few months ago, managing a slow but steady roll out across a few select stores -- and even fewer launch partners, such as Citi and MasterCard.

As the pace is picking up, more retailers are realising the potential of having a mobile device equipped credit card.

But Google has a difficult barrier to overcome.

(Source: CNET)

Should it come to the UK in time for the Olympics, it could ramp up the uptake by mobile shoppers who wish to leave their wallets at home. From souvenirs to memorabilia, it would be a few beeps of the phone and Bob's your uncle: you have saved all but twenty seconds of your life.

The seemingly killer feature? Google Offers will allow you save money on certain goods, competing with Groupon, which also offers similar deals.

The time saved by a wireless card or NFC-enable mobile device is balanced out by having to find the right deals and other money-scrimping methods.

Barclaycard continues its experiment with NFC-enabled credit and debit cards to bring wireless payments to coffee shops, cafés and other high street shopping outlets. Orange's UK Wallet mobile payment system is just another example of where Google aims to compete in this small, select and seemingly fruitless market.

Though wireless card payments offer the simplicity of paying of small amounts without the chip-and-PIN added layer of security, uptake has not been as high as it could have been.

While many will overlook the Oyster card wireless payment system for London's Tube network, it goes to show that wireless card payments are popular but only in certain time saving capacities.

With Google Wallet as it stands in the U.S., the software is dead-weight on the smartphone's resources unless you're a Citi MasterCard user with a Spring Nexus S.

Simply put: the traditional swipe-and-sign, or the chip-and-PIN methods of paying for goods will not be going away any time soon. Just because something is Google branded does not necessarily make it good or even useful.

Just look at Google Buzz and shudder.

But security fears could hamper Google's efforts even further. Sister site CNET recently reported that Google Wallet doesn't encrypt your entire card number, balance and other sensitive information.

For Google Wallet to work in the UK, knowing how the Brits are a stickler for change, it needs to work with the vast majority of cards and banks, and be adaptable to as many NFC-devices as possible.

Until the BlackBerry -- with a recently announced 8 million users in the UK, and the iPhone get NFC-technology, Google's efforts might prove futile in its expected next market.


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