Google: Wallet expanding to 10 more Sprint devices this year


BARCELONA, Spain--With Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) Wallet support set to expand to the forthcoming LG Viper later this year, Google said U.S. consumers can expect the tap-and-pay system to roll out across a host of additional devices in the months ahead.

Speaking on the Mobile Money: Delivering Innovative Mobile Payment Services panel here at Mobile World Congress 2012, vice president of Google Wallet and Payments Osama Bedier said U.S. operator partner Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) will introduce "at least 10 additional phones" with support for Google Wallet this year. Bedier added that Google remains in talks with other operators, device manufacturers, banks, financial services and point-of-sale technology vendors to further extend the Wallet network's scope.

Twenty-two of the largest U.S. retail chains now support the Near Field Communications-based Google Wallet, which enables consumers to make purchases by tapping their Android smartphone at 300,000-plus MasterCard PayPass-enabled merchant terminals. Google Wallet also includes support for SingleTap, which allows users to redeem coupons and/or earn rewards points. Bedier said that tens of thousands of transaction terminals supporting Google Wallet are joining the network every month, noting that consumer usage is strongest at convenience stores, followed by fast food restaurants. "We believe the ecosystem has taken off," Bedier said.

Sprint is expected to begin selling the LG Viper this spring. The carrier currently supports Google Wallet on two smartphones: Samsung's Android-powered Nexus S and Galaxy Nexus. AT&T (NYSE:T) subscribers with the Galaxy Nexus can now leverage Google Wallet following an Android Market device compatibility update issued earlier this year. Late last year, Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) stated it would ship the Galaxy Nexus without preloading Google Wallet.

AT&T, Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile USA will go head-to-head with Google Wallet later this year when their Isis joint venture begins trials in Salt Lake City and Austin, Tex. Like Google Wallet, the NFC-based Isis promises services enabling consumers to conduct point-of-sale transactions, redeem coupons and use store merchant loyalty cards via mobile device. Isis has pledged to open its system to all interested credit issuers and banks; in July it welcomed financial services providers Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express to its ranks.

Availability across a diverse array of operator networks and handsets is imperative for services like Google Wallet and Isis to achieve critical mass. Six device manufacturers--HTC, LG, Motorola Mobility (NYSE:MMI), Research In Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM), Samsung and Sony Ericsson--have committed to introducing NFC-enabled devices that support Isis.

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