This week, Google introduced Google Wallet, which could either be representative of the future of how we pay for things and organize our daily lives or a massive bust. Time will tell. In the meantime, we've compiled a great deal of information about the product, and what's known about it before its true launch.
Here is what you need to know about google Wallet:
1. Google Wallet stores virtual versions of credit cards and coupons on a phone.
2. It will also store loyalty and gift cards in the future.
3. Google Wallet is a free app.
4. Google Wallet is separate from Google Checkout, and can be thought of as the brick-and-mortar counterpart to the online payment nature of Google Checkout
5. Google Wallet uses Near Field Communication to allow consumers to make contactless payments.
6. Google Wallet is currently field testing, but will become available to consumers this summer.
7. At first, Google Wallet will only be available on the Nexus S 4G by Google from Sprint, but Google will expand it to other devices/platforms in time.
8. Citi, MasterCard, First Data, and Sprint are launch partners for Google Wallet.
9. Google is also partnering with point of sale systems companies, including Verifone, Hypercom, Ingenico, and ViVOTech, to "introduce rich interaction between Google Wallet and the point of sale."
10. Google says it continues to partner with issuing banks, payment networks, point of sale systems, semiconductor companies, mobile handset manufacturers, mobile operators and merchants on Google Wallet-related elements.
11. Google is being sued by PayPal, who had two executives leave for Google. More on this here.
12. If you want to be notified about Google Wallet availability and product updates, you can give Google your email address here.
13. Google Wallet will support Citi PayPass eligible MasterCard credit cards and the Google prepaid card upon launch, but will support more in the future.
14. Users can pay with Google Wallet anywhere MasterCard PayPass is accepted.
15. Users can tap their phones on the merchant's PayPass terminal to transmit payment details.
16. You don't have to have a network connection to make a payment.
17. You can't use Google Wallet if your phone battery is dead.
18. Currently, when a user adds their Citi MasterCard to Google Wallet, they can immediately spend up to $100, but to access their full line of credit, they'll have to wait for Citi to send an activation code to enter into Google Wallet.
19. Google has very ambitious goals for Google Wallet, saying one day it may store your boarding passes, ID, and even keys.
20. Google Wallet will sync to your Google Offers (Google's recently launched Groupon competitor, which it also intends to integrate into other Google products like Search, Latitude, Maps, and Shopper.
21. According to reports, there will be stickers that customers can put on any device that can hold the information for one card, and when tapped on an NFC device, would work with Google to handle payments.
Security and Privacy Concerns
22. If your phone with Google Wallet is lost or stolen, Google says you should contact your credit card company for assistance, and that you should report your phone lost/stolen and basically take the same precautions you would have anyway.
23. Google Wallet will allow you to remove all cards from your phone by resetting it (which also removes all transaction data).
24. Google says it protects your payment credentials by storing them in a chip called the "Secure Element" that is contained within the Nexus S 4G, and is isolated from the phone's main OS and hardware. Google does not say how this will be addressed with other devices. That's probably for the manufacturers to determine.
25. Google does enforce a PIN number.
26. In terms of the possibility of a malicious app accessing your credit card, Google says, "Both the Android platform and the Secure Element are designed to prevent this from happening. Android enforces strict access policies so that malicious applications wouldn’t have access to data stored by Google Wallet. Even Google Wallet itself has very limited access to the Secure Element, and cannot read or write data from its memory. There are multiple levels of protection for data stored on the Secure Element and it is protected at the hardware level from snooping or tampering."
28. Google's response to the possibility of someone getting close to your phone to read sensitive data, is, "The NFC antenna in your phone is only activated when the screen is powered on, and even if the antenna is on and in proximity of a reader, payment credentials can only be transmitted from the Secure Element to a payment terminal if you first enter your Google Wallet PIN."
29. As far as being held liable for unauthorized transactions on credit cards store on Google Wallet, Google says the same rules apply as plastic cards.
30. Google says it does not "currently" receive data about products you purchase using Google Wallet.
31. Google Wallet does record locally on the phone the time of transaction and the credentials used to pay. There is an option to turn on a feature to record your location.
32. Google enables you to clear your transaction history from the main menu of the app.
What Businesses Need to Know
33. To accept contactless payments, Google says your terminal must be ISO 14443 or 18092 standard (they will normally contain the universal contactless symbol).
34. You'll need First Data's latest systems to be able to accept Google Wallet (in addition to other contactless payments).
35. Merchants interested in participating can call First Data at 888-265-8147 (you can also request a call back here).
36. Merchants pay card-present rates for transactions made via Google Wallet (as opposed to card-not-present rates)
37. There are no additional charges.
38. Google does not take a cut of transaction fees through Google Wallet.
39. Businesses can request to become "SingleTap" merchants, where consumers can pay, redeem offers, and earn loyalty points. Merchants can integrate gift cards into Google Wallet.
40. Current SingleTap merchants include: American Eagle, Bloomingdales, The Container Store, Duane Reade, Einstein Bros. Bagels, Foot Locker, Guess, Jamba Juice, Macy's, Noah's, Peet's Coffe & Tea, RadioShack, Subway, Toys R Us, and Walgreens.
41. Current Tap and Pay merchants include Coca Cola, CVS, Jack in the Box, Sports Authority, and Sunoco.
42. Merchants can always send questions about Google Wallet to the company at firstname.lastname@example.org.
43. Google says it will remain an "open commerce ecosystem" by supporting many payment instruments with the goal of creating virtual versions of all the plastic cards that exist today, establishing APIs that issuing banks can develop for, and APIs to enable transfer of offers, loyalty programs, receipts, etc. at the point of sale, and spreading Google Wallet to more mobile devices and platforms.
“In terms of iPhone, RIM, Microsoft — we will partner with everyone,” Google VP of Commerce Stephanie Tilenius (named in the PayPal suit) is quoted as saying.
There are still plenty of unanswered questions. Rachel King at ZDNet posts some good ones, such as what happens when the battery dies? ATM cash advances? International travel?
Google is clearly very serious about the future of this app (see those aspirations mentioned earlier). I'm guessing some of these things will be addressed in time.
Do you think Google Wallet is a good idea? Tell us what you think.