Google Launches ‘Wallet’

We’ve all been there. You get to the till, hand over your goods, and promptly remember that you’ve left the gift card / loyalty card / money-off coupon at home. But it’s a frustration that could soon be history thanks to Google’s latest mobile app.

Yet another ‘game-changer’ from the search giant, which is increasingly infiltrating every aspect of our lives, Google Wallet is, well, exactly what it sounds. A 21st Century wallet. Using near field communication (as per Oyster Cards on London’s Underground), users will be able to tap their phone onto readers to pay for goods.

But that’s not where it ends. In Google’s words, “it will do more than a regular wallet ever could”. We’ll also be able to upload credit cards, store cards, gift cards and money-off vouchers to the app, allowing them to be automatically redeemed / credited with loyalty points each time we tap to pay. And these aren’t the only bits of bulk that we’ll be able to purge from our bulging wallets and overflowing handbags. Eventually, Google predicts that we’ll be able to upload and store boarding passes, tickets, IDs and even keys in Google Wallet.

The company is currently field testing Wallet and “plans to release it soon”. As yet, only Citi MasterCard and a Google Prepaid Card (which can be funded with “almost any payment card”) will be available on the app, which is only compatible with the Nexus S 4G by Google. It’s unclear when and where it will work in the UK as yet, but you can be sure that it won’t be long before other banks, handsets and retailers around the world jump on board. And while the technology is neither new, nor exclusive to Google, you can bet that if anyone has the clout to take a system like this global, it’s Google.

Speaking as a female, I’m not sure I’m ready to lose my handbag just yet. But it would be quite nice to only need a phone and a lip gloss rattling around in it, rather than the chaotic mass of vouchers, ticket print-outs and coppers all buried somewhere at the bottom, alongside the kitchen sink…