This past year has been a shaky one for Google Wallet, and at times we wondered if the its days might be drawing to a close. After all, we heard about setbacks like the cancellation of plans for a physical Google Wallet credit card, and saw this year’s Nexus 7 tablet launch without the Google Wallet hardware support last year’s model enjoyed. In spite of these roadblocks, it looks like Wallet will continue to soldier on, and today Google announced a big change for the software, as it becomes available on all Android phones running Gingerbread or later.
How’s Google managing that? Availability is no longer innately tied to a phone’s ability to use NFC to make Wallet payments. Instead, owners of such devices can take advantage of Wallet’s ability to store loyalty cards (though to be fair, that’s a pretty short list for the time being – don’t expect to find your supermarket or drugstore just yet), to directly transfer money to other Wallet users, or to keep track of purchases you’ve made through Google’s system.
This could be a smart move for Google, especially if it gets more users trying out Wallet for the first time, and subsequently complaining to their carriers or OEMs about their inability to use the full app and also make NFC purchases. Enough angry voices, and maybe all these jerk companies will stop being so evil and greedy about mobile payments in the first place.