Google Wallet makeover brings new UI, but no physical card


Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) released a new version of its Wallet contactless payment application, introducing a revamped user interface but stopping short of delivering the physical credit card rumored since last fall.

Available for download from the Google Play digital storefront, the new Google Wallet is highlighted by three tabs at the top of the screen. The first, My Wallet, includes an image of the default credit card linked to the user's Google account, as well as an option to "Tap to change or add card." My Wallet also features options to access offers, rewards cards and gift cards.

Google Wallet's new Transactions tab lets users view individual purchases, complete with total, date and time, transaction status and ID number, and the last four digits of the credit card used. The third tab, Explore, integrates featured offers from Google merchant partners as well as specials from retailers within the consumer's immediate physical vicinity. The Google Wallet update also promises application stability and battery life improvements.

The Near Field Communications-based Google Wallet enables consumers to make purchases by tapping their device at more than 200,000 MasterCard PayPass-enabled merchant terminals across the U.S. While Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S), U.S. Cellular and MetroPCS (NASDAQ:PCS) sell Android smartphones supporting Google Wallet, Verizon Wireless, AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) and T-Mobile USA do not offer Wallet-capable devices, dramatically limiting adoption of the service. (The three non-participating carriers instead support their own nationwide m-commerce network, Isis, which kicked off consumer trials in the Salt Lake City and Austin, Texas markets in October.)

Reports indicate Google is poised to add a physical credit card connected to the Wallet platform, enabling consumers to make in-store purchases at retailers that do not support NFC-based contactless payment technologies. The rumors follow an October 2012 Wallet website update promising "The next version of Google Wallet [is] coming soon," complete with a signup page asking "What kind of mobile device do you use?" and offering three options: Android, 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.

Google has not officially commented on the possibility of physical card, but insiders say the approach would closely resemble the Starbucks Card Mobile App, which eschews NFC. iPhone, Android and BlackBerry device owners instead complete in-store transactions by generating scannable barcodes connected to the customer's prepaid Starbucks Card account. Starbucks customers use the app more than 2.1 million times each week.

For more:
- read this NFC World article

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