Near Field Communications could finally be about to find its killer app, as today Google has revealed details of its NFC-based payment program, Google Wallet, along with deal-finder Google Offers.
Earlier this week we heard that Google and Sprint were planning to announce their NFC-payment venture today. Sure enough, not only is Sprint involved, but Google’s partnered-up with MasterCard and Citibank, as well. This is no exclusive club, though, as Google Wallet will be an open platform, with other carriers and financial institutions invited to join in.
To use Google Wallet, you’ll need to attach a credit card to your Google account. If you don’t have one, Google will offer pre-paid cards you can use with Wallet. If you’re spreading your finances around, you can have one account linked to multiple cards.
Security is handled through a user-chosen PIN, as well as lock-out features on-board the NFC chip in the Nexus S. By 2014, Google expects 150 million smartphones to have the needed hardware to conduct NFC transactions.
Google says that something like 300,000 retail locations in the US already have the needed NFC hardware in place. Companies such as Macy’s, Subway, American Eagle, The Container Store, and Walgreens have been announced as some of the first chains to get on-board with Google Wallet payments. Participating retailers can let their customers store loyalty card data on their smartphones through Wallet.
Google Offers works hand-in-hand with Google Wallet to use location-based data to present you with coupons and deals that are for for nearby business and for products or services that Google’s believes are relevant to your interests. Look for Offers to launch first in New York City and Portland. Once you find an Offer you like, it can be saved to Wallet and used automatically when you make your purchase.
If this project is going to work, those Google Offers discounts will need to be enticing enough to convince consumers to keep their credit cards in their wallets and whip out their smartphones to pay. That, in turn, will depend on getting retailers excited about the the potential of Wallet. We’ll start to see just how successful the program is as Google Wallet launches this summer.