May 29, 2011

Google Wallet app lets you tap to pay with smartphone -

NEW YORK — Ready to pay for everything via your smartphone? Google is the latest tech company banking on it. On Thursday the search giant launched Google Wallet, a mobile app to pay for goods via your smartphone. Google also announced Google Offers, for mobile discounts you can redeem by tapping your phone at participating merchants, or by showing the bar code as you check out.

Google is partnering with Citi, MasterCard, First Data and Sprint and merchants including Subway, Macy's, Walgreens and American Eagle Outfitters. Google says it is building an open solution to other financial companies and retailers.

"Your phone will be your wallet — just tap, pay and save," says Stephanie Tilenius, vice president of commerce at Google. Adds Osama Bedier, vice president of payments at Google, "This is just the beginning." Consumers will be able to store credit cards, loyalty cards, gift cards and mobile offers on their phones.

Google isn't the only one at it, of course. The Google announcement follows word that Square, a company headed by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, will also pursue mobile contact-less payments. Visa has invested in the start-up. Financial-software publisher Intuit is also going after mobile payments.

For mobile payments to take off, consumer behavior will have to change. But Google points out that while a decade ago 70% of consumers were reluctant to pay for stuff online, today 70% access their credit card information over the Internet. Beth McCormick of American Eagle says, "For our customers, smartphones are a way of life. This is the next frontier of how customers are going to shop."

At the start, a Google Wallet will give access to a Citi MasterCard. But it will also include a prepaid Google card that can be funded by any of your credit cards. Google also says it is adding multiple layers of security. "It was a fundamental consideration from Day 1," Bedier says.

Citi's Paul Galant, CEO of Global Enterprise Payments, says this is of "strategic importance" to Citi in its vision to become "the world's digital bank."

Google will begin initial field testing of Google Wallet in New York and San Francisco this summer. To start, Google Wallet will be compatible with Nexus S 4G, available on Sprint. The Wallet app will connect only to MasterCard PayPass terminals at first, of which there are more than 135,000 in stores and restaurants.

by Edward C. Baig USA Today May 26, 2011

Google Wallet app lets you tap to pay with smartphone -

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