Google revamps mobile wallet to boost adoption

Link credit and debit cards to Google Wallet accounts

Google is aiming to boost adoption of its mobile payments platform, Google Wallet, by enabling users to load any bank card onto the service. Consumers can now add any of their existing cards to their Google Wallet app on participating smartphones as Google attempts to lower the barriers to entry after below par traction to date. The move marks a change in tack for Google, which planned to link with a number of banks following its initial partnerships with Citigroup. However Google Wallet’s product development head, Robin Dua, tells the Wall Street Journal that negotiations with banks and subsequent integration of their services could “literally take a lifetime to work through”. Instead, consumers cards will now be stored in Google Wallet’s new cloud-based app without the involvement of their banks in a move that Google hopes will give it an advantage over the deluge of mobile payment platforms emerging in the US and worldwide.

Google Wallet has struggled to attract users since its initial launch last year, with barriers such as lack of participating NFC-enabled devices and the restriction to Citigroup-issued cards hampering adoption. Though Google insisted in June thatNFC-enabled devices running its Android OS are now shipping at a rate of 1m units per week, reports persist that the firm may be forced to reconsider its mobile payments strategy, particularly in the face of rumours that Sprint, the service’s mobile operator partner, is readying an NFC payment service of its own. Support from mobile operators is still seen as a challenge for Google Wallet, despite its decision to bypass bank integrations.

Nevertheless, a positive for the service is its decision to focus on NFC, which is widely expected to become the dominant form of mobile payments. Forecasts by Juniper Research released in May assert that more than one in four consumers in the US and Western Europe will pay for goods in-store using an NFC-enabled mobile device by 2017, while separate Juniper figures NFC will power USD74bn worth of transactions globally by 2015.

Google’s Wallet update also includes new security features such as remote wipe, enabling users to erase all sensitive financial information, with security still seen as an obstacle for mobile payment services to overcome. However, Google still has a way to go to crack the masses, with just eight NFC-enabled devices equipped to support the service.



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