There may yet be hope for Google Wallet.
Despite the mobile wallet’s lack of merchant acceptance and handset availability, its unceremonious transition to the California company’s advertising wing in March and the ousting of its top exec Osama Bedier in May, a July 24 TechCrunch report suggested a new Google project could revitalize not only Google Wallet, but the tech giant’s stagnant eCommerce plans.
Called Helpouts, the yet-be-announced marketplace would enable real-time commerce by leveraging Google’s popular live-chat service, Google Hangouts. Helpouts will allow individuals as well as small and large businesses to sell products via live video.
Google described the service in one leaked photo as “a new way to provide real-time help over video chat anytime, anywhere.”
TechCrunch credited its report to a Google source, and provided several photos of the unreleased product. It also indicated that the service has been undergoing testing in California since last June. Major brands like Sears and Weight Watchers have reportedly participated in the trial stages.
Helpouts might not sound immediately intriguing, but TechCrunch noted that the service could have a substantial impact by allowing certain industries to better access customers via the web.
For example, the report noted that Helpouts could provide a platform for yoga instructors, foreign-language tutors and computer technicians to connect with global customers with just an Internet connection.
So how does Google Wallet factor in to the announcement?
Sellers who use the service will be able to create profiles, manage their reputation and accept payments via the service. TechCrunch indicated that Google Helpouts could come integrated with Google Wallet as well as other Google products, and be released to the public in as little as a month.
Regardless, Google Wallet’s involvement could spur its lagging adoption.
As of this June, Google Wallet had only been downloaded 10 million times: a low figure for the two-year-old service that was banking largely on increased NFC use. At the same time, Gartner cut its five-year mobile payment transaction forecast for NFC by 40 percent, citing Google Wallet’s struggle to gain transaction.
However, by pivoting away from NFC in the short-term and capitalizing on a captured market, Google Wallet adoption could increase, even if merchants and customers are allowed to use alternative payment methods.
For more on Helpouts, read the full TechCrunch report here.