Rumor Mill: Google scraps Wallet physical card ahead of I/O event
Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) is halting plans to introduce a physical credit card connected to its Google Wallet mobile commerce network, All Things D reports.
First rumored last fall, the Google Wallet physical card reportedly would enable consumers to make in-store purchases at retailers that do not support the Near Field Communications-based contactless payment technologies that power the Wallet application for Android smartphones. The rumors erupted following 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 resembling BlackBerry (NASDAQ:BBRY) devices.
Sources told All Things D that Google planned to introduce the card--said to feature a black face adorned with the rainbow "W" of the Google Wallet logo, a standard magnetic stripe and embossed account number and information--at its annual I/O developer event, taking place in San Francisco next week. But, Google CEO Larry Page abruptly aborted the card launch plan following a glitchy demo last week. Sources add Page has long been skeptical of the physical card approach, contending the concept does not advance digital payment innovation on the same level as solutions from startups like Square.
Insiders said Page's decision to abandon the physical card hastened the exit of Google Vice President of Wallet and Payments Osama Bedier, who left the company earlier this week. "We can confirm that Osama Bedier has decided to leave Google this year to pursue other opportunities," a Google spokesperson said. "He's achieved a lot during his time here, and we wish him all the best in his next endeavor. Payments are a big part of what people do every day, and we're committed to making them easier for everyone."
Google reportedly will still introduce some new Wallet partners at I/O, making rewards, offers and loyalty points available across more merchants. Google declined to comment.
Google Wallet enables consumers to make purchases by tapping their Android smartphone at more than 200,000 MasterCard PayPass-enabled merchant terminals across the U.S. While Sprint Nextel (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 kicked off consumer trials in the Salt Lake City and Austin, Texas markets last October.
- read this All Things D article
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