Google seemed to be mid geekgasm when they announced their Google Wallet program, a system by which users could make payments via smartphone. This wasn’t some payment routing utility, either. You could literally tap your phone to a special sensor and – voila! Payment sent. The problem is that, beyond many being entirely apathetic about the entire idea, numerous analysts have predicted the failure of the device.
I myself have a mixed opinion on the topic, and I always try to suspend judgment. Rather than giving you an ear-load about my opinions, I’m going to go through some of the common “complaints” about Google Wallet and give my feedback.
- The rollout is too tiny to succeed!
It’s true that the Nexus S is the only phone, there’s only one card, and there are only 15 chains who are supporting the program. Some call that a minuscule rollout. I would call that a testing phase. Google will definitely need more partners to succeed, but it’s okay to test the waters a bit first.
- You’ll still need your wallet!
Yeah, you pretty much will. You’ll still need your driver’s license, library card, and school ID at a minimum, and many will want to keep payment methods as a backup. So, while Google Wallet might work to keep your payment methods at home – and thus less vulnerable – even that use is minimal at best. This could change if schools, states, and other groups started introducing smartphone IDs. The concept isn’t unheard of, and with NFC technology it may even be a good step forward. But we’re not there yet.
- The technology is weak!
NFC is new but fairly reliable. Security concerns are legitimate due to the young age of the product, but NFC is as secure or more secure than other mediums – as far as we can tell. The greater concern here is battery life, since no one wants to be deprived of cash just because their Evo ran out of juice (which it does in, like, four hours). Batteries and general phone reliability will have to step forward to make this viable.
- AT&T, Verizon, ISIS, and PayPal are competing!
Okay, this one is completely off. Yes, there are competitors. That’s a good thing. It means more merchants, card groups, and retailers are likely to implement the technology. In this instance, the rising tide will raise all ships.
What are your thoughts? Is Google Wallet the way of the future or just another Google experiment doomed for failure?