The search giant is in discussion with mobile network operators around the world, NFC World has learned, with the aim of making its NFC mobile wallet available both internationally and on a wide array of handsets. US carrier partner Sprint is set to be the first, with up to ten additional handsets due to get Google Wallet this year.
Google is in talks with carriers around the world with the aim of extending availability of its NFC-based Google Wallet app to both a wide variety of handsets and consumers in a number of countries, NFC World has learned.
Osama Bedier, Google's VP of Google Wallet and payments, revealed during a panel session at the Mobile World Congress yesterday that US carrier partner Sprint will introduce "at least 10 additional phones" with support for Google Wallet this year, Fierce Mobile Content reports. The search giant is in talks with other operators, device manufacturers, banks, financial services and point-of-sale technology vendors to further extend the Wallet network's scope, Bedier added.
Google Wallet will definitely arrive in the UK this year, NFC World understands. Discussions have also been held with Korean mobile network operators, who are at the leading edge of NFC phone adoption, NFC World has learned. Two other mobile network operators from different parts of the world have confirmed off the record with NFC World this week that they are in licensing discussions with Google.
So far, however, only Japanese mobile network operator NTT Docomo, co-founder of the widely adopted Osaifu-Keitai mobile wallet service which is now moving to NFC, is the only carrier to officially confirm it is in talks with Google. Docomo believes its service and Google Wallet can "co-exist", the carrier has told NFC World.
Two types of deal are likely to be struck. The first would see Google making commercial agreements with carriers to allow embedded secure elements in Google-controlled Android phones to be switched on, avoiding December's confusion around the launch of the Verizon Galaxy Nexus.
The second type of deal has far wider implications. Here, Google would gain the right to make use of space on NFC SIMs issued by mobile network operators.
This second type of deal would allow Google Wallet to move beyond just its own Nexus Android phones to include any NFC mobile phone, giving the search advertising giant the possibility of gaining the kind of reach needed to replicate in the mobile arena its dominance of the online advertising market.
As we explained in our research report The NFC Market 2012:
Attention is currently focused on the use of secure elements embedded into handsets as the sole way for over-the-top players such as Google, Microsoft and Apple to find their way onto NFC handsets.
The NFC SIMs used by mobile network operators as secure elements, however, also offer a number of ways for non-carriers to deliver NFC mobile wallet services. Technology is available to allow these businesses to strike wholesale deals with carriers to acquire the rights to all or part of the NFC secure element on a SIM and then use that to deliver their mobile wallet offering to consumers. This means that services provided by operating system suppliers can find their way onto any handset — for a price — and will not be restricted only to handsets containing an embedded secure element chip.
An update to the Google Wallet app has been released this week. The update adds new features as well as including "core wallet system fixes" which are expected to further address the security issues revealed last month.