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Google launches new version of Wallet app

By Retail Technology | Tuesday September 17 2013

Banking on apps integration to grow m-commerce ecosystem with loyalty programme and cards integration via Android operating system and with existing e-commerce sites

Google has today launched a new version of the Google Wallet app, which is rolling out this week to all smartphones running Google’s Android operating system version 2.3 and higher.

Following the recent announcement of the ability to send money in Gmail using Google Wallet, the newly updated Google Wallet app is designed to let consumers send money on the go, store loyalty cards, save money through offers, and view all of this transactional activity in one place.

The web software giant is hoping to attract retailers and other loyalty programme operators and organisations to embrace Google Wallet using readymade Android app and website integration.

Broad application ecosystem

Google Wallet’s integration with other Google channels – Google+, Google Search, Google Maps, Google Offers, Google Ads and others – is also designed to offer broad distribution for brands to promote digital wallet programmes. This ease of discovery is taken a step further by Google Wallet enabling instant sign-up to brands’ loyalty programmes using information in existing Google Accounts.

Consumers can also scan physical cards to add them to Google Wallet and use its “Search for Merchant” feature to discover available cards and programmes from their favourite brands. 

Google said it would be free to send money directly from a bank account or Google Wallet Balance, and low fees apply when using linked credit or debit cards. 

In a blog posting, Peter Hazlehurst, Google Wallet product management director, said app users can now join new programmes like Alaska Airlines, Belly, and Red Mango within the Google Wallet app. Consumer will able to view loyalty status, rewards point balance and in the coming days, Google Now will send notification of a saved loyalty programme nearby for these merchants.

More retailers due to sign up 

“And coming soon, choose from even more programmes including Avis Car Rental, BJ’s Restaurants, Cosi, Hard Rock International, InterContinental Hotels Group, Marriott International, Raley’s, and The Body Shop,” he said.

In addition to loyalty cards, the app also manages offers. “No matter where you’ve found your offer – in the Google Maps app, Google Search, Google+ or Google Offers, they’re visible and redeemable in your Wallet app at checkout,” added Hazlehurst. 

“And later this week, you’ll also be able to save offers on select merchant and couponing sites such as Valpak. Just show the offer on your app at checkout to redeem it.”

Consumers with one of 29 different, compatible near-field communications (NFC) enabled devices, will continue to be able to tap and pay at hundreds of thousands of US locations, while also enjoying the new Wallet features. And Google added that more NFC-enabled devices were in plan as it continues to invest in NFC with partners.

The company added that all Google Wallet transactions are monitored for fraud and protected against eligible unauthorised Google Wallet transactions by Google Wallet Purchase Protection. In the event a user loses their phone, they will also be able to remotely disable the Google Wallet app online.

Building up NFC functionality

In related news, Google also revealed late yesterday that it had acquired contactless file sharing company Bump in a deal thought to be worth up to $40 million (£25.2m). The company’s Bump and Flock cloud-based apps let users share files between compatible enabled phones in near proximity to each other.

And a US market researcher, Global Industry Analysts (GIA), today announced the launch of a major research programme this week to analyse the trends impacting the global market for NFC devices. 

The GIA study, which called for industry participation, will examine key drivers and trends impacting the market such as emerging application areas in contactless mobile payments, mobile wallets, m-commerce, healthcare, and logistics; growing shipments of NFC enabled devices; increased interest among mobile application developers to develop NFC-based mobile apps; roll out of NFC-based services by Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) across the world; and increased integration of NFC chips into SIM cards.

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