Google Wallet heading to UK – Rumour

Google is reportedly set to trial its mobile payments and deals service, Google Wallet, in the UK in preparation for a full launch ahead of next year’s Olympic Games. A report in French newspaper Les Echos claims that the firm will trial Google Wallet in London during Q1 2012, enabling consumers to purchase goods and redeem coupons using their NFC-enabled smartphones. Google is said to be in talks with financial services, retailers and banks in view of a complete rollout in time for the games, which begin in July. Google Wallet is beginning to gain traction in the US after its launch in September, with the search giant aiming to gain a foothold in the NFC-based mobile payments space amid emerging competition from a host of rivals.

If confirmed, Google’s launch in the UK would likely provide a boost to the mobile payments space at a time where more and more consumers are looking to use their connected devices to shop. InMobi believes that half of UK mobile users already use their device to purchase either digital or physical goods, while research by Barclays Corporate in October forecasts that UK shoppers will spend GBP19.3bn (USD30.5bn) on purchases made via mobile devices by 2021 versus the GBP1.3bn (USD2.05bn) spent this year. However, some believe that there is growing apprehension regarding the security of mobile payments, with YouGov asserting that only 13% of the consumers it surveyed say that they are comfortable with making contactless mobile payments.

Google is looking to push Google Wallet as a host of firms seek to become the leading force in NFC-based mobile payments. However, the firm faced a setback of sorts this month when US mobile operator, Verizon Wireless, declined to include the app on its version of the Samsung Google Nexus smartphone. Conflicting reports claimed that the network made the decision due to security concerns, while others suggest that Verizon snubbed the app due to its involvement with Isis, the joint payment venture that it developed alongside AT&T and T-Mobile.

While some analysts are split regarding the dominant mobile payment format in the coming years, Google is confident it has backed the right horse, with the firm’s senior industry manager for mobile, Nick Cumisky, asserting that NFC will become “de facto” by 2015. Overall, Juniper Research predicts that NFC technology will power an estimated USD50bn worth of transactions worldwide by 2014.

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