Google has just announced its heavily-anticipated Google Wallet payment system which turns your phone into a virtual wallet. Google Wallet will utilize the long-in-the-making NFC (near field communication) technology, which allows devices to communicate just by being near each other as opposed to being plugged in.
Your Google Wallet will be able to store information like your credit cards, coupons and discounts, loyalty and gift cards and someday, even your driver’s license, travel and other tickets could be potentially stored within. Of course, while I’m sure Google has worked hard on the security of this device, it will no doubt precipitate many cries for its demise on both security and privacy grounds.
Google touts benefits for both consumers and merchants, and one that benefits both groups is their Groupon-like Google Offers. Another will be the geo- and person-targeted offers that will be made possible via the combination of GPS and NFC. Just think of the scene in Minority Report where Tom Cruise’s character is walking past billboards that seem to ‘know’ who he is and advertises accordingly.
Initially, Google Wallet will work with MasterCard’s PayPass system and their 300,000 locations as well as a Google prepaid card, but naturally it would be to Google’s advantage to have this work with more than just a MasterCard in the future.
To start with, Google Wallet will work with the Nexus S 4G available on Sprint. Of course, if this interests you in the least, then you’ll want to ensure that your next phone is NFC-capable. Although not strictly necessary, it makes the whole experience that much more enjoyable and seamless.
Lastly, if you’re planning to migrate extremely sensitive to your phone, you not only want to treat it as securely as you do your wallet, but you may want to even invest in a virtual leash for your phone (like the nio or ZOMM) and/or software that can remotely wipe your phone’s contents.
(image courtesy of Google)