Google has announced that will stop supporting the Google Wallet for Digital Goods API as of March 2, 2015. Google posted the notice of its intention to stop supporting the API on the Google Wallet Developer site.
Google's decision means that merchants won't be able to use Google Wallet applications that enable payments for digital goods, such as music, video, ebooks or software.
"When we first launched Google Wallet for digital goods, we wanted to make it simple for users and merchants to buy and sell online," Google said in the post. "The industry has matured a lot since then, providing a number of alternative payment solutions to choose from.
"As we continue to evolve and improve our merchant tools to meet new market challenges in the payments space, we are writing to let you know we will be retiring the Google Wallet for digital goods API on March 2, 2015."
Anyone using the service after that time will get a 404 error. This is a blow to developers and also to small retailers who built payment applications based on Wallet, as it will force them to recode to select other payment sources such as PayPal.
The company cited "a changing landscape in digital payments." Google Wallet has faced very stiff competition in the three years it has been running. PayPal has a dominant position, and Apple Pay is getting most of the recent press.
Wallet began as a service for smartphones to make payments via near-field communications (NFC) and evolved to offer an Internet payment service as well. Wallet hasn't been able to expand beyond the United States, which has limited its growth potential and market reach. NFC technology is still evolving, and the approach is fragmented across the retail industry, limiting its acceptance.
Google doesn't plan to terminate Wallet payments for apps sold in the Google Play store. Its NFC service is a separate part of its Wallet business and will still work, so users can still use their phones to purchase goods in stores and outlets. Google Wallet will still support the purchase of physical goods online. Google Wallet will also continue to support in-app payments where the payment is built into a gaming app to allow purchase of extra powers or weapons.
Google has no plans or recommendations for a replacement, so users have no choice but to move on and look for their own replacements. The only recommendation Google offers on its help site is, "We encourage you to research payment processing solutions to best fit the needs of your buyers."
Google also urged merchants and developers supporting Google Wallet to act promptly. "Google Wallet buyers will not be proactively notified. Keep in mind that if you do not remove your integration before March 2, 2015, your buyers will get 404 errors upon checking out with Google Wallet for digital goods API," Google's notice said.
"To preserve your user experience, we highly recommend removing your integration and migrating to another payment processing solution as soon as possible."