Google Wallet: Expectations and Doubts

Posted by jun auza On 9/28/2011
Since 2004, Google has been reinventing the way we use technology. After revolutionizing the manner we search, broadcast videos, check emails, and communicate, the big G has decided to lend its golden touch to the world of payments. With Google Wallet, the search giant expects to make payments simpler, more personalized and highly secure, thus making credit cards a thing of the past.

Many tech enthusiasts are excited about Google’s latest endeavor, and those who have tried it are going gaga about it. However, calling Google Wallet a success at this point would be quite premature. As with high expectations, there are rising doubts about the service’s policies. The doubts and criticisms are from Google’s competitors as well as many of its users who are rightfully concerned about their privacy. As of now, there aren’t any visible flaws in the service, but considering Google’s bad history with users’ privacy, many people are wary about trying it, because after all, their money’s involved here. Only time will tell whether Google’s new attempt at freeing people from bulky wallets will succeed or not.

If you, like anyone else, are excited about Google Wallet, read on as we discuss the service in a little more detail.

What is Google Wallet?

Google Wallet is a new mobile payment system that allows users to store credit cards, loyalty cards, and gift cards as well as redeeming sales promotions/discounts on their mobile phone. The service uses Near Field Communications (NFC) technology to allow users to make secure payments by simply tapping their phone on a PayPass-enabled terminal. NFC technology, which has been tried and tested worldwide, is a new emerging standard for mobile payment as it is more secure than other methods like Bluetooth. So, even if you lose your phone, no one can access your Google Wallet without the PIN. This makes NFC a superior payment method when compared to credit cards and debit cards, because if you lose your card, the person stealing it can checkout even without knowing your PIN number. Moreover, Google Wallet frees up your physical wallet by combining all your shopping cards into your smartphone. This is especially convenient for folks who carry around bulky wallets; remember George Costanza’s exploding wallet?

Do I have to buy a Nexus S for that?

At the moment, yes, as Google Wallet only works on Nexus S 4G (Sprint). However, in the future, Google will be adding support for other phones as well. And don’t worry if you don’t have an NFC-enabled phone; Google will be manufacturing special NFC stickers which will help you use Google Wallet on any kind of smartphone. Google has also hinted that the service will work across non-Android phones too as they’ll be partnering with RIM and Microsoft to make their product available for everyone.

Where will it work?

As of now, Google Wallet is in its infancy, though that doesn’t mean that it won’t work anywhere. Google Wallet payment system can be used in RadioShack, McDonald’s, BP, Best Buy 7-Eleven, Subway and many other major brand outlets across America. Google plans to partner with more brands as the service matures, but don’t expect the service to be available worldwide anytime soon.

Google Wallet and the story behind it

Former PayPal employees Osama Bedier and Stephanie Tilenius develop Google Wallet. According to PayPal, Google, initially, was trying to negotiate with them for about 2 years. However, just when the deal was about to go through, Google backed out and instead hired Osama Bedier. PayPal has filed a lawsuit against Bedier and Tilenius accusing them of giving away their confidential trade secrets to Google. They’ve also accused Bedier of storing confidential information in locations such as non-PayPal computers, non-PayPal email accounts, and a Dropbox account. Despite these initial hiccups, Google Wallet has been successfully launched across the US. However, that doesn’t end all of Google’s woes as the lawsuit might haunt Google once it gets more popular.

Privacy, Security, doubts and apprehensions

Google has a bad track record when dealing with its users’ private data. Critics have raised concerns over Google storing and recording every transaction they make. The privacy policy as of now states that Google doesn’t share any private data, but it does store it. This may be a big turn off for people concerned about their privacy. Also, even though NFC is very secure, it’s not perfect. An open source device called Proxmark can easily eavesdrop on an NFC transaction. However, the chances of that happening are very slim as an NFC device’s range is very small.

Will Google be able to pull it off?

Despite the privacy and security concerns, Google might be able to turn this into a success story. However, it depends on how it executes the project and how stable it is once it’s ready for a global audience. Do let us know what you feel about the future of Google Wallet. Are you excited about it? Or are you too concerned about your privacy to try it out?

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