Google Wallet was introduced almost three years ago, and it’s been an uphill battle since then. From carrier and phone limitations to competition, the payment system has seen a lot of resistance. They’re not giving up, though. At the 2014 Electronic Transaction Association tradeshow in Las Vegas, Ariel Bardin, head of Google Payments, said they’ll “continue doing [it] for a long while.” He also spoke about the changes of Google Wallet and how Google is taking a different approach than their competitors.
When Google Wallet got its start, it was supposed to be the dawn of a new era. It was a great opportunity if you had a phone with NFC (a short range wireless chip that allows the transmission of information), a carrier that would support Wallet, and the right credit card. Most people didn’t fall into that group, though. On top of all that, merchants were hesitant in spending money to upgrade their systems to work with NFC and Google Wallet. It was a slow start to say the least. Google trekked on, though. They adapted to the world around them.
They added support for more credit cards and saw a boost in usage. Although a good move, it wasn’t enough. There were questions about the security of Google Wallet transactions through NFC. Google altered their approach. “…we asked ourselves if we could emulate the secure element in software, and make it a core service in Android,” Bardin explained. So that’s what they did. Using a cloud based technology called HEC (host card emulation) to store sensitive information along with the tap and pay ability of NFC, Google Wallet was revamped. The system is now built in to the Android software (4.4) and open to developers.
So what does this all mean when it comes to the big picture? Expansion. Google Wallet isn’t limited to phones anymore. Data is stored in the cloud, so it can be accessed anywhere. You can add credit cards from other locations. Online merchants can accept Google Wallet payments. Google services can access this information so you don’t have to constantly reenter credit card information. It’s a very integrated system. The question is how is it going to fair?
Nothing is ever easy in the tech industry. When a service comes along (especially when the market forecast is $720 billion in transactions by 2017), someone else is always trying to get a seat at the table. AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile immediately invested in Isis, a mobile payment system with an eye to compete with Google Wallet. Square allows mobile platforms to make credit card transactions. Paypal and Amazon both have potential to become competitors. Even Apple has been rumored to introduce a payment platform since its implementation of Touch ID.
Google isn’t just interested in revenue from transactions on Google Wallet, though. “We are in the business to create a great user experience. That’s a little different from others in this industry. Making money will come later,” said Bardin. The use of Google Wallet will expand the uses of other Google services. Money will eventually be made from Google Wallet, but the revenue from search and ads will come first.
So whether you like it or not, Google Wallet is here to stay. It’s part of Android now. It’s infiltrating not only the entire Google ecosystem but other parts of our interconnected world as well.