The Google Nexus S phone which launched earlier this year is one of the first US smartphones to include NFC, or Near Field Communications technology which is used overseas to allow people to make purchases from retail stores using a phone instead of a credit card. But hardware only gets you so far. You also need the software to back it up, and while the inclusion of NFC technology in Google’s flagship phone was a good indication that the company had something up its sleeve, it wasn’t until today that Google spelled out its vision for turning your phone into a credit card.
Google is introducing two new services: Google Wallet and Google Offers. They’re designed to let you store multiple credit cards, loyalty cards, and gift cards on your phone, as well as coupons and other promotions. The result is a much thinner wallet that offers more features… but you’d best hope your phone doesn’t run out of juice before you get the checkout line.
Google Wallet is basically a system that lets store your credit card information on your phone (or info for multiple cards). MasterCard’s PayPass system will allow you to tap your phone and a checkout to make a payment without revealing your credit card data. MasterCard says over 300,000 merchants already have the PayPass system in place
Google is field testing Google Wallet right now and plans to launch a public beta of the service soon. At launch it will be available in a handful of major cities including New York, San Francisco, and Portland.
Google Offers is a new coupon/discount service. You can sign up for email notifications, and the service will also connect with other Google services including Search, Maps, Latitude and Shopper to show offers that may be of interest when you’re searching for information or checking into a location.
When you make a purchase or save an offer, it gets stored in your Google Wallet account. And retailers who work with Google can offer loyalty cards through the Google Offers and Google Wallet system so that you don’t have to carry around a dozen different cards to get frequent shopper promotions.
Initially the Google Nexus S will be the only supported phone, but as more NFC-capable Android phones hit the streets Google will expand the service.