‘Magic’ of Wallet NFC network is spreading across US, Google says

18 Oct 2011

The ability to pay for goods and services with a mobile phone is having a “magical” effect on consumers, Google said today as it signed up more top brands willing to conduct m-commerce transactions in their stores.

In recent weeks, Google got the ball rolling on its near field communications (NFC) platform, Wallet, which it operates in collaboration with the Sprint mobile network and Citi MasterCard. Visa, Discover and American Express will join the app in the future, according to Google. The system works on Nexus S 4G phones on the Sprint network.

Google admitted it had to move fast with its NFC roll out because rivals such as Amazon, Facebook, PayPal and telecom operators like Orange France and social commerce providers such as Groupon and Living Social, are all in a hurry to get into this space.

In a blog post today, Spencer Spinnell, director, Emerging Markets at Google, said the feedback from consumers has been positive. “We’re hearing from people at check-out counters throughout the country that paying with your phone is a little like magic.

“Today, our partners American Eagle Outfitters, The Container Store, Foot Locker, Guess, Jamba Juice, Macy’s, OfficeMax and Toys R Us are rolling out an even better Google Wallet experience. For the first time ever in the US, at these select stores, you can not only pay but also redeem coupons and/or earn rewards points — all with a single tap of your phone. This is what we call the Google Wallet SingleTap experience.

“With Google Wallet in hand, you can walk into a Jamba Juice, American Eagle Outfitters or any other partner store. Once you’ve ordered that Razzmatazz smoothie or found the right colour slim jean, head straight to the cashier and tap your phone to pay and save — that’s it. You don’t have to shuffle around to find the right coupon to scan or rewards card to stamp because it all happens in the blink of an eye.”

New ‘Featured Offers’ section

Spinnell says the Offers tab in Google Wallet has been updated to include a new “Featured Offers” section with discounts that are exclusive to Google Wallet.

“Today, these include 15pc off at American Eagle Outfitters, 10pc off at The Container Store, 15pc off at Macy’s and an all-fruit smoothie for US$2 at Jamba Juice. There are many more Google Wallet exclusive discounts to come, and you can save your favourites in Google Wallet so they’ll be automatically applied to your bill when you check out.”

He added that organising loyalty cards in your wallet is getting easier, too.

“Today, Foot Locker, Guess, OfficeMax and American Eagle Outfitters are providing loyalty cards for Google Wallet so you can rack up reward points automatically as you shop. More of these are on the way.”

He said that in response to user feedback, Google has improved transaction details for the Google Prepaid Card with real-time transaction information including merchant name, location, dollar value and time of each transaction.

He said that upcoming new additions to the Wallet network in the States include Chevron, D’Agostino, Faber News Now, Gristedes Supermarkets and Pinkberry, who are now also working to equip their stores to accept Google Wallet.

“It’s still early days for Google Wallet, but this is an important step in expanding the ecosystem of participating merchants to make shopping faster and easier in more places,” Spinnell said.

Wallet transaction

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years