Google has released a new version of Google Wallet that will allow anyone with an Android device running version 2.3 'Gingerbread' or higher to store loyalty cards and offers on their mobile phone as well as make online payments and send funds to friends. NFC phone owners can also use the app to make purchases in stores and, Google says, "we continue to invest in NFC with our partners."
"The updated app helps you easily send money on the go, store all your loyalty cards, save money through offers, and view all your Google Wallet activity — all in one place," Peter Hazlehurst, Google Wallet's product management director, explains on the Google Commerce blog.
Key features of the new app include:
- Send money from anywhere. Users can send money from the app to any US adult with an email address. The service is free when payment is made from a bank account or funds stored in a Google Wallet account. Fees apply when funds are sent from a linked debit or credit card.
- Loyalty card scanning. Users can scan the barcode on a card, or type in the card number, to add any loyalty card account to Google Wallet. "The next time you're at the store, you can earn points for your loyalty program by scanning the app at checkout," Hazlehurst says. Alaska Airlines, Belly and Red Mango loyalty card holders can also view their loyalty status and rewards point balance from within Google Wallet and, "in the coming days", users will also get notifications via Google when they are close to a merchant with a saved loyalty program. Avis Car Rental, BJ's Restaurants, Cosi, Hard Rock International, InterContinental Hotels Group, Marriott International, Raley's and The Body Shop are all to add this support soon.
- Save offers. Users will also be able to store a wide range of offers in the new Google Wallet. "No matter where you've found your offer — in the Google Maps app, Google Search, Google+ or Google Offers, they're visible and redeemable in your Wallet app at checkout," Hazlehurst adds. "And later this week, you'll also be able to save offers on select merchant and couponing sites such as Valpak. Just show the offer on your app at checkout to redeem it."
- Purchase history. Users can also view all the purchases they have made with Google Wallet from within the app.
- Online and mobile purchases. The app can be used to make purchases on "Google Play, select mobile websites or a growing set of Android apps."
- In-store purchases. Users with one of 29 supported NFC devices will also be able to make contactless payments in stores. "We also have more NFC-enabled devices on the horizon as we continue to invest in NFC with our partners," says Hazlehurst.
"We take security seriously," Hazlehurst concludes. "All Google Wallet transactions are monitored 24/7 for fraud. Plus, with Google Wallet Purchase Protection, you're 100% covered for eligible unauthorized Google Wallet transactions. And if you lose your phone, you can remotely disable the Google Wallet app online anytime."
The new Google Wallet Android app is available to download now from the Google Play Store and is rolling out this week in the US. Details on when the service will be available in other countries has not yet been released.