Back in March, the Wall Street Journal heard on its source grapevine that Google was planning its own mobile payment service for Android phones.
And indeed the WSJ was bang on the mark, as the search giant has just announced Google Wallet, which it demonstrated yesterday at its New York office.
The mobile payments service has been brought to life with Citigroup, MasterCard, First Data and sprint, and is undergoing field testing at the moment.
It’s an app which uses NFC to turn your mobile phone into a credit card, allowing you to “tap, pay and save” in Google’s words. The latter being a reference to loyalty programs and discount coupons which will be integrated into the scheme.
Android owners will be able to use the app to store their credit cards, loyalty cards, gift cards and so on without having to bulk out their wallet with plastic. The app will automatically take care of the redemption of offers, too, so there’ll be nothing to think about.
Google also stressed security, an obvious concern for some when it comes to mobile payments. A PIN number will be required while making a purchase, just like your credit card.
The app also stores payment card details as encrypted (obviously) and on a separate system called the Secure Element.
Google writes: “Think of the Secure Element as a separate computer, capable of running programs and storing data. The Secure Element is separate from your Android phone’s memory. The chip is designed to only allow trusted programs on the Secure Element itself to access the payment credentials stored therein.”
MasterCard PayPass secure encryption is also utilised to protect card details as they’re transferred from phone to contactless reader.
Initially, Google Wallet will support Citi MasterCard and Google Prepaid cards over in the States. It will be compatible with the Nexus S 4G handset to begin with (on Sprint), with Google promising availability on more phones eventually.
Google plans to launch the app “soon” over in the US, although it hasn’t mentioned anything about dates for the UK yet. We’ll let you know more as soon as we hear it.