Google’s much awaited App, Google Wallet makes its debut today on the Sprint Nexus S 4G phone. This latest app enables its users to use Near Field Communications (NFC) technology to make payments easier as customers can pay for items in brick-and-mortar shops by simply tapping their cell phones to a vendor’s PayPass reader, a small box used for transmitting data, which is found at the stores of major retailers like Macy’s, McDonald’s and Whole Foods. Google has partnered with Master Card to make this app a success. The latter has been using NFC chips on a few of its credit cards since 2003 and had developed the PayPass reader.
As per our experience the app stalls for around 20 minutes once while registering a payment. Besides it the app is easy to use. But Google and Master Card need to fix the broken and malfunctioning PayPass readers found in maximum stores as the app promises to emerge as a new mode of payment.
The app at present works only on Sprint Nexus S4G phone that has a special NFC antenna and a chip which Google names as the ‘secured element’. The chip saves the payment information separately from the main OS of the phone. The app currently supports Citibank Master Cards only or with Google Prepaid Cards, which can be used to load money from other debit accounts. Google hopes to link with all the major credit cards soon. Google Wallet can be used at the selected vendors that have PayPass readers. (Note: Just after the launch of the Google Wallet app, Visa announced that its customers will now be able to link their Visa cards to the latest app launched by Google.)
Google sets up a PIN for its users on entering which the secured element chip of the phone is turned on enabling them to access Google Wallet. The chip is turned off when the PIN isn’t entered and the NFC antenna turns off once the phone’s screen is off, thus preventing accidental purchase or loss of money through fake NFC readers. The reentering of the PIN everytime you wish to check something through the app is irritating but safe.
In the Google Wallet app you can view all the cards that are linked to your phone and can choose a default payment card. There are options for the use of loyalty cards, Google offers and can also view your payment history, which gives the card and time of every transaction occurred. The GPS of the phone can be used to attach a location to every purchase but there is no knowledge about the amount of the transactions.
The Google Wallet does not make the transaction quick but definitely makes it easier to make the payments preventing you from carrying cash or looking for credit cards. Most of the cashiers are still indifferent to the system. For the Google Wallet to revolutionize payments it is essential for Google and Master Card to ensure the proper functioning of the PayPass readers at the vendor’s as most of the readers are not in working state or malfunctioning leading to the failure of the payment.
A major advantage of Google Wallet is that users get easily use to it and after a few payments get very quick at it. The app hardly consumes 248 KB per payment hence is a low data consumption app. If you are low on balance in your card the Google Wallet deducts the amount and leaves the remaining amount for you to pay by some other mode. The app is easy to use, simplifies making payments and also makes you look cool. Once the vendors mend their PayPass readers the Google Wallet app will be an interesting and common way of making payments. But for this Google is still to expand the technology to other phones, vendors and credit cards.