Google is opening up its m-payment service to allow third-party ID distributors and ticket providers, such as airlines and railway companies, to integrate it with their offerings, as it attempts to boost uptake among consumers, reports StrategyEye. The firm is on a major push to drive adoption of Google Wallet, which allows users to store credit card details in a mobile app, enabling them to make payments using their smartphones, recently opened up the service to let users add any bank card. Robin Dua, Google Wallet’s development manager, said the firm is making it "super simple" for third-party services to register their credentials with the app as Google attempts to replace physical wallets with its digital version.
"One of the types of things we're trying to do is make it easy for airlines, transit providers, and other types of issuers of credentials to make it super simple for them to get their credentials stores in the wallet," said Dua speaking at a developer conference this week. "We want you to be able to leave your leather wallet at home and carry your phone and transact with that as your primary transaction device."
With uptake of the mobile payment system still lukewarm a year after launch, the move to open up Google Wallet to third-party ticketing services and banks highlights a turnaround in the firm's strategy as it attempts to promote its brand. Google initially partnered with just Citigroup bank, however it subsequently abandoned plans to continue securing partnerships with individual banks, claiming that the negotiations would take "literally a lifetime". Another aspect hampering growth is the limited number of NFC-enabled devices available on the market. NFC-enabled devices running its Android OS are now shipping at a rate of 1 million units per week, Google said in June. But there are reports that the firm's only mobile operator partner, Sprint, is also preparing its own NFC service, which has led to speculation that Google will need to rethink its strategy to make an impact on the m-payment industry.
Even though there was a buzz surrounding NFC payments last year, services such as Google Wallet seem to be taking much longer to get off the ground than rival mobile payment services like plug-in credit card readers from firms including Square and PayPal. NFC continues to attract lofty predictions from research houses such as Juniper, with the firm predicting that one in four consumers in the US and Western Europe will be using the technology by 2017. However, without figures from the likes of Google Wallet, these predictions remain just that. In comparison, Square now claims to be processing USD6 billion in m-payments a year, which indicates that while consumers are embracing the practice of paying for goods with their mobile phones, NFC services may need more of a shift in consumer thinking before it becomes mainstream.