Many months ago I wrote an article about the future of Google Wallet and it seems many other companies are jumping into the fray of digital wallet management. Some banks and credit card companies on their own are developing their own digital wallets, which is pushing all of these into a digital arms race. What does this mean for the possible future of digital wallets, and is this the end of plastic?
I love acronyms, don’t you? They make everything sound so technical and make you sound smart in general conversation. Well, here’s another one for you, NFC. My very first article here at TheBlueDot was about Google Wallet using NFC for credit card transactions. That didn’t amount to much at the time since only a couple phones had the technology to use it. But now, later this year, almost every new smart phone will have NFC, including the iPhone 5. So what is NFC, how will it be used, and is it even worth your interest?
Over the past decade cell phones have went from simply “mobile phones” to “mobile computers”. We can surf the web, check on our finances, pay bills, stay connected with social media and even use GPS to find our way around the world. It seems that with every year our Phones become more and more essential to our daily lives. Well, that is about to take another leap this very year. Google has just released, though limited, Google Wallet, an Android exclusive application.
Google Wallet, available only on the Sprint Nexus S (for now), is literally what it claims to be, your wallet. Anyone with an Android phone will be able to link their credit and debit cards to one simple application. Each card will be protected with a PIN code, which you unlock for every purchase. No more losing credit cards and scrambling to get it locked before someone uses it to buy a yacht. Now, if you lose your phone, horrible in its own way, you can feel better in knowing that your finances will remain secure.
Android phones outfitted with Near Field Communication (NFC), will be able to go to any store and purchase goods with a simple wave of their phone. The amount of stores accepting such a device are limited at the moment, but growing fast. You can search via the program itself, by entering your zip code, and find locations near you already accepting the new program. We searched for locations in Philadelphia and found dozens accepting Google Wallet.
At the moment only Citi Bank Mastercard is linked to Google Wallet, but Google already has deals planned with Visa, Discover and American Express. In the meantime you can use google’s prepaid card within the application and add money from any card you please. What does this mean for our Cell Phones future? And with such a major change to how we do finances, how will Apples iPhone respond? Competition is healthy, and this can only mean great things for us.
Numerous banks already have finance applications linked to your account, but just imagine having them all in one simple location, in your pocket, protected with the same security as an ATM. No more clunky wallets, no more scrambling for that one specific card for that one specific store. All new Android phones will be NFC compatible, which is some bad news for older Droid users. Or is it? Visa is actually working on MicroSD cards with NFC technology. If such technology gets released, anyone with a microSD slot in their phone will be able to enjoy this application (and future ones to come). Droid X, Reality and even the very first Droid by Motorola could be potentially compatible.
But don’t count Apple or Windows out. If there is one constant in the world it’s that when one company innovates, the others copy and possibly enhance. Apple has been known to go toe to toe with Google on the software market. Apple will respond, and in turn, will cause Google to respond in kind. When that response will be is unknown at the moment.
But why the limited release? This seems like such an incredible program that anyone and everyone will want asap. According to Tech Crunch, Google wants to ensure the security and functionality of the NFC technology behind the Google Wallet. Considering this program could be potentially holding millions of people’s credit cards, it’s a wise choice to field test it as much as possible. Their goal is to make Google Wallet more secure than having a physical card on you at all times. Just having it be PIN activated already makes it slightly more secure than its old plastic cousins. This is only the beginning though, so our flimsy credit cards will probably live on for a few more years before the general public will trust such a program. Now we simply wait for the competition and see what innovation comes next.