Well, the day we had all been waiting for finally arrived. Yesterday, September 19th, Google launched its long-awaited and much-anticipated Google Wallet. The Web is buzzing with news of this launch, but let us boil it down for you (a convenient listing of all of the stories published so far is presented below).
Here’s what we know:
1. You must have a Sprint Nexus S 4G Phone to get it.
2. You must have a Citi MasterCard or Google Prepaid card to actually use it to pay for stuff. In order to put those cards in your Google Wallet, you have to download the Android wallet application.
3. Since it works with MasterCard’s PayPass technology, it can be used anywhere that technology is used, which is currently about 120K U.S. locations, 300K worldwide.
4. Google Wallet beat ISIS to market with its NFC wallet solution.
6. Right this very minute, you can use Google Wallet at selected Toys”R”Us, Jamba Juice, OfficeMax and American Eagle Outfitters (those are configured with something called Google Single Tap), as well as Peet’s Coffee & Tea, Champs Sports, Coca-Cola, Jack in the Box, Sunoco, Sports Authority, Radio Shack, CVS and Duane Reade (all MasterCard PayPass locations).
7. Google Offers is only enabled at Google Single Tap locations.
Here’s what we’re still waiting to know:
1. When the other participating retailers will be activated and whether they will be PayPass or Google Single Tap enabled. Presumably, Google Single Tap are those merchants that Google is subsidizing to install NFC readers and enabling merchant offers to be driven and redeemed via that interface.
2. When Visa cards can be added to Google’s Wallet. Although Visa granted Google a worldwide license for use of its PayWave technology so that Visa cards can work in those wallets, it’s not clear from the press accounts when we can expect to see that happen.
3. When other handsets will be enabled, and by other handsets, we mean Motorola as well as Samsung, HTC, etc.
4. If and when Offers will be extended to PayPass locations.
5. How consumers and merchants will like it. (Related: Will Google Wallet Ignite mPayments? PYMNTS Readers Weigh In)
6. What V.2 will look like. Executives hinted that more features and functions are on the horizon.
It’s pretty exciting stuff, and we’ve written a lot about Google’s prospects for making mobile NFC a reality in the United States.
For those of you without Sprint phones (most of us!) and who want to see the experience up close and personal, PYMNTS.com was treated to a demo that you can watch here. And, look for a more in-depth piece later this week, which will examine who and how the U.S. mobile payments race will be won now that we also understand PayPal’s mobile payments solution.
Karen Webster is the CEO of Market Platform Dynamics (MPD), a consulting firm that helps companies find, implement and monetize innovation. She serves as an advisor and member of the board for a number of companies operating in the payment, technology and digital media industries. More info here.