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Google Aims to Turn Digital Wallets Into Transit Passes

Google will allow commuters in more locations to store transit passes in their digital wallets.

The tech giant discussed its progress in marrying the Google Wallet with transit payments in a Thursday (Oct. 26) company blog post.

“We saw a strong uptick of contactless and mobile payments over the last few years as people sought out more touch-free ways to go about life,” Atri Chandramouli, product manager for Google Wallet, wrote in the post. “And the convenience of making contactless payments has stuck. Nine in 10 public transit riders say they expect transit agencies to offer contactless options as a form of payment.”

To meet the demand, Google already lets commuters in 500 cities pay for travel with Google Pay, per the post. It has also begun allowing travelers to buy and store transit passes directly on their phones, a service available in Madrid and set to expand to Seattle and the Puget Sound area.

Meanwhile, Google is also at work on a new spend-tracking feature that shows commuters their ride history and how much time-based fare caps have helped them save, according to the post.

“You’ll also be able to receive updates directly from your transit agency, so you have the latest information on service changes or delays,” Chandramouli wrote in the post. “This new feature will begin rolling out later this year…

Google’s efforts come as consumers’ interest in using mobile wallets continues to grow.

The Mobile Wallet Challenge: Replacing Physical With Digital,” a PYMNTS Intelligence and ACI Worldwide collaboration, showed that digital wallets have become a popular tool for keeping various types of documents.

The study found that event tickets and airline boarding passes were the most common types of documents, stored by 42% and 40% of consumers, respectively.

“The increasing popularity of storing documents in mobile wallets can be attributed to the benefits it offers consumers,” PYMNTS wrote earlier this week. “First, it eliminates the need to carry physical cards, reducing the risk of loss or damage. Digital wallets also provide a secure and convenient way to access important identification information with just a few taps on a smartphone.”

In addition, mobile wallets let consumers easily organize and manage a variety of information from a centralized location, doing away with the hassle of searching through wallets or purses to find the specific card they need.