Tech Tuesday: Google? That’ll Do Nicely Thank You

Phone or Wallet?

Tech TuesdayIf you had to choose, which would you rather loose, your phone or your wallet? If you answered phone you may be surprised to learn that as many as 30% would plump for the other. Phones are becoming ever more indispensible to us, I for one would struggle to remember anyone’s names let alone their phone numbers if I lost my phone.  The recent rise of the smartphone has firmly entrenched the gadgets in many of our lives.

Just when you thought your phone couldn’t be any more important to you Google launches its Wallet. Google Wallet allows you to pay for goods using your phone, just tap it on the reader and ta-dah – or kerching!

Google is planning to integrate Google Wallet into its other recent launch, Offers, enabling users to keep their e-coupons and money in the same place, making sure you never miss out on a discount or special offer. Very useful.

Could it be Magic?

The system works using Near Field Communication (NFC) technology – not to be confused with the rather excellent KFC (payment via drumstick waving isn’t on the cards any time soon, sadly).

A dedicated chip in the phone stores your details and will only communicate them to a NFC terminal after you have entered your security PIN.

That Sounds Expensive

Google is offering the Wallet for free to both users and merchants. Where most card issuers charge a percentage of the transaction to the merchant Google is instead going to make its money from selling more advertising on the mobile platform. So, no cost to you, but expect a lot of adverts.

Want one?

You can have Google Wallet for free, as long as you live in the USA and have a Google Nexus S phone on the Sprint network. Although this is not the first implementation of NFC, it is still in its relatively early stages and will take sometime to fully roll out across the Globe. Visa has now signed up for Google Wallet and this should speed up the spread but it happened too late for the launch. At the moment it is looking like we could be waving our phones to pay for goods in the UK (and the rest of Europe) at some point in 2012. There is also talk of a special NFC ‘sticker’ that can be attached to the phone to allow any smart phone to use Google Wallet rather than just the Nexus S, as is currently the case.

Hate Waiting!

This may be one of those times when patience is a good idea. Google is not the only player in the game; they just got their boots on first. Apple, Microsoft, O2, PayPal, American Express and RIM are all looking at releasing NFC payment systems in the near future and there is a fair chance that the different systems will not all be compatible with each other. Does anyone out there remember Betamax?!

Here in the UK we have to wait anyway so it would probably be a good idea to see what the others are going to do with NFC.  This is one of those occasions where you’ll have to window shop for now, and wait a while before you get your Google Wallet out…

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