Saturday, October 22, 2011

Bye bye wallet. Well, not yet!

I'm so kicked about Google wallet. Readers of this blog may not be surprised as I get kicked about everything google comes up with. Its disruptive and its also cool. Google describes it as the fun way to pay. Well, i dont think paying can ever be fun :) but I like the fact that i can finally use my phone to make payments by just simply touching on some gadget (the pay pass thing). I'm excited the same way I was when i got my first debit card and went out shopping with it.

The Google wallet app can hold my credit cards virtualized and then i can pay at any store that supports Pay Pass by simply pointing or touching my phone to the payment reader device. Done. No credit card handing, waiting for it to come back and no signatures. In the US you swipe your credit card yourself on this machine and do a virtual signature using a stylus. From now on you just touch the machine with your phone. Of course Google will have to integrate all the credit card companies all over the world to have their virtual cards addable to Google wallet. The have started with Citibank credit cards and soon will be Amex ready. Till then should i wait? No. Google wallet comes with a virtual Google prepaid card to which i can fill money using any credit card.

I have no idea when its going to be available in India. I have seen Pay Pass credit card readers in Shoppers Stop. But never used it. Google India should be proactive in getting Citibank India integrated which will enable Android (with NFC) users at least pay at Shoppers Stop. By then all other stores will be able to keen to get this done at their counters. India is big on Android but not all Android devices have NFC. Thats one more hurdle. The device manufacturers are reluctant to invest in NFC as they dont see people benefiting from it yet. Someone in the line has to take a step forward for others to move. Its a chicken and egg problem. NFC can be used for other purposes also like sharing and checking in. Device manufacturers please do something about it... make people comfortable using NFC. Android Beam is Google's next step at making people use NFC for other than payment.

Google is taking all the steps to make this happen. Google brought out there own phones with NFC built in. They have integrated with Citibank master card but also came up with the prepaid card. They worked with pay pass to make the point sale compatible. They tied up with merchants in the US to ready them to use the latest version of pay pass gadgets. Their volunteers are going to these stores and demonstrating google wallet to the customers. They are working with other credit card companies for integration. They have now acquired Motorola and its a given that all their new phone will have NFC. And this is happening in US now. They have long way to go before making this happen around the world.

So is your wallet (the real one) only about payments? Well i have my movie tickets, loyalty cards, discount coupons, gift cards, metro pass and flight boarding pass in it. Google wallet will eventually have all of them too. Of course your family's picture is already there on the phone. Google literally means it when they say "Bye bye wallet, we will take it from here".

I'm so excited about Google wallet. Next time I go to US, i'll make sure that i go to all the stores where I can pay with Google Wallet and experience it first hand. I can only pray that it should come to India soon.

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