Google Wallet expands to MetroPCS, hints at iPhone support
Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) is expanding its Wallet contactless payment service to regional operator MetroPCS (NASDAQ:PCS), hinting that a forthcoming revamp of the solution may also introduce support for Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) rival iPhone.
Google announced via Twitter that MetroPCS customers with a Samsung Galaxy S III smartphone may now download the Wallet application from its Google Play digital storefront. The app enables consumers to make purchases by tapping their device at more than 200,000 MasterCard PayPass-enabled merchant terminals across the U.S. Google Wallet also includes support for SingleTap, which allows users to redeem coupons and/or earn rewards points, as well as Featured Offers, which spotlights exclusive discounts from select retailers.
MetroPCS is the third U.S. operator to support Google Wallet, following Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) and U.S. Cellular. Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ), AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) and T-Mobile USA have shunned Google Wallet as they focus on building out their own nationwide m-commerce network, Isis, which kicked off consumer trials in the Salt Lake City and Austin, Texas markets Monday. Earlier this month, T-Mobile USA agreed to merge with MetroPCS, although the deal awaits regulatory approval.
In addition to trumpeting the MetroPCS agreement, Google quietly updated the Wallet website Monday afternoon, stating "The next version of Google Wallet [is] coming soon." Consumers can request an invitation to the updated service, and doing so yields a page asking "What kind of mobile device do you use?" with three options: Android, Apple's iOS or "other," the latter represented by an illustration of a smartphone with a physical keypad à la Research In Motion's (NASDAQ:RIMM) BlackBerry devices.
Expanding to the iPhone would require Google Wallet to undergo a significant technological overhaul--the current version of the service depends on Near Field Communications integration, and Apple devices do not support NFC. It's possible that Google could embrace a more Web-based approach or evolve Wallet to support QR codes, which is how Starbucks enables iPhone-equipped consumers to pay for in-store purchases.
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