Google Wallet dumps support for gift and loyalty cards
Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) is retooling its Wallet mobile commerce platform, halting support for gift and loyalty cards.
"On August 21, 2013, we are ending the current NFC redemption of gift and loyalty cards added to Google Wallet," states a Google email sent Thursday to Wallet users. "If you've already redeemed your gift cards, you don't have to do anything. If you have a balance remaining and you'd like to spend it using the tap and pay functionality, you must do so by August 21st. If you still have the physical gift cards, they will continue to work even after August 21st. Please note that this does not impact NFC credit and debit card payments, and you'll still be able to tap your phone to make purchases."
Google added it is "working with retailers on other options for gift and loyalty card redemption within Google Wallet, and [is] excited to share them with you soon." A Google spokesperson told Engadget the company had no more information to share.
Google Wallet, first launched in May 2011, enables consumers to make purchases by tapping their Android smartphone at more than 200,000 MasterCard PayPass-enabled merchant terminals across the United States. In addition to support for all credit and debit cards from Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover, the app integrates SingleTap, which allows users to redeem coupons and/or earn rewards points, as well as Featured Offers, which spotlights exclusive discounts from select retailers.
While Sprint (NYSE:S) and U.S. Cellular sell Android devices supporting Google Wallet, Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ), AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) and T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS) do not offer Wallet-capable devices, dramatically limiting adoption of the service. The three non-participating carriers instead support their own rival m-commerce network, Isis, which is slated to roll out nationwide later this year following consumer trials in the Austin, Texas and Salt Lake City markets. Google Wallet also faces stiff competition from the likes of eBay-owned PayPal and other mobile payment initiatives.
Google has regularly revamped Wallet, ditching a branded prepaid card and rolling out user interface changes. Insiders say Google also planned to introduce a physical credit card connected to Wallet but halted the project after demonstrations failed to impress top brass.
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