Report: Google introducing physical credit card for Wallet users
Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) is poised to add a physical credit card connected to its Near Field Communications-enabled Wallet platform, enabling consumers to make in-store purchases at retailers that do not support contactless payment options.
Screenshots from a leaked Google Wallet application update obtained by Android Police indicate the card is designed for use anywhere that major credit and debit cards are accepted. Like the Android version of Google Wallet, the physical card acts as a container for multiple credit and debit accounts: "Add your credit and debit cards to the Google Wallet app, then use any of them in stores using just the Google Wallet card," Google explains. "You can leave all the cards you used to carry at home."
The Google Wallet card charges each transaction to the default credit or debit card identified by the consumer during the app setup process--users can bill a transaction to a different card by opening the Wallet app and selecting the alternative account. In addition to completing purchases, users can leverage the card to access and instantly redeem exclusive offers. Google also touts instant transaction notifications, 24/7 fraud monitoring and tools for remotely disabling an Android phone or card at any time.
The pending introduction of the Google Wallet card appears to answer questions raised late last month when Google quietly updated its Wallet website to promise "The next version of Google Wallet [is] coming soon." Signup options ask "What kind of mobile device do you use?" with three options: Android, Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) 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. Given that the current tap-and-pay version of Google Wallet depends on NFC, a technology not supported by Apple, expanding the service to the iPhone would have required a significant overhaul. However, rolling out an iOS app and an accompanying physical card would enable Google to extend Wallet support to the iPhone while bypassing NFC altogether.
Beyond the physical card, Android Police notes Google Wallet for Android is introducing a new functionality allowing consumers to withdraw funds from their Wallet account and transfer funds to other users. The app is also adding tap-and-pay support for transit fares.
Google Wallet first launched in May 2011 and is now supported across multiple Android smartphones from operator partners Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S), U.S. Cellular and MetroPCS (NASDAQ:PCS). The current iteration of the app enables consumers to make purchases by tapping their Android smartphone at more than 200,000 MasterCard PayPass-enabled merchant terminals across the U.S. On Thursday, Google announced support for mobile website transactions: The three-step process requires consumers to tap the Buy with Google Wallet button, log into Wallet and click to complete an order. Participants merchants include 1-800-Flowers.com, Rockport.com and FiveGuys.com.
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