Google has announced Google Wallet, Google Offers and a Google Prepaid Card, in partnership with MasterCard, Citi, First Data and Sprint.
Google has unveiled a suite of NFC-based services at a press conference in New York. The new services revolve around four new brand names: Google Wallet, Google Offers, Google Prepaid Card and SingleTap, which will be delivered in conjunction with MasterCard, Citi, First Data and Sprint.
"We believe the shopping experience hasn't yet been transformed by technology," Stephanie Tilenius, VP of commerce and payments at Google, told reporters. "Our goal is to bring together all the pieces of the ecosystem and drive a brand new shopping experience."
"We have an enormous opportunity in front of us," she said, adding that today's announcement represents "our first steps in making this vision a reality... this vision will take a while to come to fruition."
Key features of the new services include:
- Google is offering its own Google Prepaid Card that will come automatically with every Google Wallet. It will be possible to add funds to the prepaid account from any credit card.
- Google Wallet users will also be able to load a Citi MasterCard onto their Google Wallet from day one. In the future, any card issuer will be able to add their cards to the Google Wallet, using a set of APIs provided by Google.
- Payments processing for the Google Prepaid Card and the Citi MasterCard will be conducted through MasterCard's PayPass network. Google will not receive a cut from the transaction revenues.
- Google has partnered with First Data for trusted service manager (TSM) services such as provisioning card data over-the air to Google Wallet users' handsets.
- SingleTap is the name Google has given to NFC's ability to allow multiple actions to be conducted with a single tap of a phone. This means that consumers visiting merchants who have signed up for the SingleTap programme will be able to make a payment, identify themselves as a loyal customer and redeem a coupon all in one go.
- Later this year, POS terminals will also be able to pass back purchase details to the wallet so that consumers can use it to store a digital receipt.
- Merchants already signed up for SingleTap include Bloomingdale's, Foot Locker, RadioShack, Walgreens, Guess, Toys R Us, Macys, Subway and American Eagle Outfitters.
- Overall, there are currently 300,000 merchant locations around the world able to accept MasterCard PayPass payments and, therefore, payments via Google Wallet. 120,000 of those are in the US.
- Consumers will be able to store payments cards, offers and loyalty cards in their Google Wallet and view a transaction history.
- Google Offers will begin by providing a 'deal of the day' service but there are plans to expand this to other promotional services over time.
- Google Offers is also integrated into Google Search. Advertisers will be able to promote an offer that can be downloaded as a coupon directly to a users' Google Wallet for redemption in a store.
- Google Wallet will not function if a phone's battery is dead.
- Stickers that can be affixed to other makes of phone to give them at least basic Google Wallet functionality may also be on the way.
- Google Wallet does not currently receive data about what products are purchased with it. It does record the time of an initiated transaction and which credential was used. Users can opt to turn on a feature that records their location at the time of purchase.
A video showing how merchants could benefit from Google Wallet has been produced. The video features several of the SingleTap launch merchants discussing their reasons for joining the programme:
Many of the eight key questions that will decide whether the service will be an instant game changer or a slow burner are yet, however, to be answered. Is this day one for NFC? Or are we all still waiting for Apple?
• Buyers of our NFC Business Models research report were already well prepared for Google's announcement. They know what their options are, how to weigh up competing NFC service offerings and where the value lies within the NFC ecosystem. You can order your copy here.