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Google Wallet accelerates in-app checkout, adds Gmail integration

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Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) continues ramping up its Google Wallet m-commerce network, introducing APIs for simplifying purchases within native Android applications and rolling out loyalty programs, additionally integrating payment capabilities into its Gmail platform.

The new Google Wallet Instant Buy Android API enables merchants and developers selling physical goods and services to accelerate the checkout process: "Users who buy on Google properties have set up Google Wallet," states Google Wallet Senior Product Manager Prakash Hariramani. "They can now checkout in Android apps in as few as two clicks without having to manually enter their billing or shipping information. Google Wallet securely sends this information to the developer with the user's permission."

When developers implement Google+ Sign-in along with Instant Buy, users may sign in directly with their Google account, instantly creating an app registration. All transactions are monitored for fraud 24/7 and are covered by Google Wallet Purchase Protection.

The Google Wallet Instant Buy Android API is optimized for sellers with payment processing services already in place: "Since Google is not processing payments or managing fulfillment, there are no additional fees or complex integrations," Hariramani adds. Developers selling digital goods within their Android apps will continue to use Google Play In-App Billing, which supports full payment processing capability.

Google is also launching the Wallet Objects API, which allows merchants to integrate loyalty programs, offers and other consumer programs directly into Google Wallet, driving customer engagement. "Users can save these items directly to their Google Wallet for easy use," explains Google Wallet Product Manager Pali Bhat. "Showcase your brand, acquire users and engage them through instant loyalty sign-up, real-time updates and offers."

Merchants and developers can also leverage the broader Google ecosystem to fuel sales. "With Google's location services, your users get timely notifications about their saved Wallet objects," Bhat notes. "Additionally, with a simple upgrade path to Google Offers, you can distribute your offers across Google properties--including AdWords, the Google Display Network and Google Maps for Mobile--and benefit from Google's targeting capabilities."

Google is teaming with partners including Accelitec, Blackhawk, Loyalty Lab, Paytronix, ProfitPoint, Urban Airship and Vibes to simplify Wallet Objects integration. Brands like Alaska Airlines, Belly, BillGuard, The Body Shop, BJs Restaurants, Raley's, Red Mango, Marriott Rewards and RetailMeNot have already started integrating the API.

Moving forward, Wallet users also can leverage Gmail to send money to friends and family with Wallet accounts, even if the recipient doesn't have a Gmail address. To make a Gmail payment, users hover over the attachment paperclip, click the "$" icon to attach money to their message, enter the amount and click "Send." The feature is presently limited to Gmail on the desktop, although smartphone and laptop users can send from Google Wallet at wallet.google.com.

Google Wallet enables consumers to make purchases by tapping their Android smartphone at more than 200,000 MasterCard PayPass-enabled merchant terminals across the U.S. A relatively small number of devices support Google Wallet: Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ), AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) and T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS) do not offer Wallet-capable smartphones, instead supporting their own rival m-commerce network, Isis. Engadget reports that on Wednesday, Google Wallet availability expanded to Sprint Nextel's (NYSE:S) Samsung Galaxy 4 and HTC One, as well as Samsung's Galaxy Note II for both Sprint and U.S. Cellular.  

For more:
- read this Google Commerce blog post, this blog post and this blog post
- read this Engadget article

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