A leaked version of Google Wallet suggests Google is preparing to offer a plastic payment card that will work alongside the product. This would enable Google Wallet users to pay with their Google Wallet accounts at locations that don’t accept NFC.
While the legitimacy of the leaked version has not yet been verified by Google, it does fit into their stated goal of expanding the potential uses for Google Wallet. Google already has merged Wallet with their Google Checkout product, enabling users to conduct eCommerce with their Google Wallet accounts. This would also be another way for Google to circumvent the issues they are having with MNOs Verizon, T-Mobile, and AT&T.
Google has struggled with Google Wallet, getting an estimated 50,000-100,000 downloads of its app earlier this year. The problems stem from the fact it hasn’t gotten support from Verizon, T-Mobile and AT&T, which are backing Isis, a rival mobile payment joint venture. Also, its dependence on NFC for in-store payment limits its reach to about 200,000 stores that have upgraded their hardware to handle contactless NFC payments.
Still, it is hard to see the real benefit of adding a plastic card to Google Wallet. The primary advantage provided by Google Wallet’s mobile system is that it is able to combine payments with all of the aspects included in the mobile platform. Consumers can search for coupons, manage rewards points, pay for transactions, and more, all with the same device.
By switching to a plastic format, Google Wallet becomes a limited form of online banking. Consumers have a payment card with features that can be managed online. As Google continues to build out their system, they may one day provide enough features that consumers will want to use Google Wallet whenever possible. However, at this point, this does not seem like an effective solution to their problems.
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