Google Wallet: Five Serious Problems and Five Ways to Fix Them

By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2011-12-06

Google Wallet: Five Serious Problems and Five Ways to Fix Them

When the Samsung Galaxy Nexus launches later this month on Verizon Wireless' network, don't expect the device to come with Google Wallet support. According to the latest reports, the device won't allow users to make payments from the smartphone with Google's service, potentially paving the way for more carriers to make similar decrees with other devices as they push to implement their own near-field communication and mobile payment applications.

For Google, the reported ban is just the latest issue its mobile-payment system has faced since its launch earlier this year. From a short list of devices that can or will eventually be able to support the technology to tenuous relationships with merchants and credit card companies, Google Wallet seems destined for the junk heap before it even has a chance to get off the ground. Worst of all, Google doesn't appear ready to address the problem as effectively as it could.

But luckily for the search giant, there is a way out. And all it'll need to do is read on to find out what that way out is.

Issue 1: Carriers Obviously Don't Like It

Google has a major problem on its hands if carriers don't like Google Wallet. A key component in the search giant's plan is getting carriers to sign on. However, many of them already have their own mobile payment systems, including Verizon Wireless, AT&T and T-Mobile, which have Isis. As long as carriers don't like Google Wallet-and try to block it-the service will be in trouble.

Issue 2: Consumer Knowledge Is Low

Looking around the consumer market, it's hard to find many people who truly understand how near-field communication and Google Wallet work. That's a major issue for Google. If the search giant can't make consumers believe using Google Wallet to make payments is a good idea, what chance will its service have of ever getting off the ground?

Issue 3: Where Are All the Devices?

Google has promised that all future Android handsets will ship with near-field communication technology. However, what the company hasn't said is that there are hardly any devices in the offing that people actually want that will come with support for Google Wallet. Combine that with limited carrier support, and Google Wallet might have some rough days ahead.

Issue 4: Everyone Has an Ulterior Motive

As noted, Verizon has Isis, a solution that competes with Google Wallet. But it's not just the carrier. Credit card companies, competitors and, in some cases, even service providers are reportedly considering launching a Google Wallet alternative. Next year might be the year of mobile payment applications. For Google, a company with a service that relies upon strong relations with other firms, that is bad news.

Issue 5: The Longer It Takes, the Worse It Is

Google Wallet's opportunity for success is on the clock. Reports have been circling about Apple considering launching a Google Wallet competitor in 2012. If that's the case, Apple is expected to use the data it already has in iTunes to make it easier for users to adopt its service. An Apple mobile payment solution could be the death knell for Google Wallet. So the search giant needs to get its service into the mainstream sooner rather than later. The longer it takes for Google Wallet to win out, the worse it will be for Google.

Five Fixes That Could Save Google Wallet


Solution 1: Work With Carriers

To address its many issues, Google will first need to find a way to establish better relationships with carriers. As noted, Verizon has its sights set on the NFC space, while AT&T and T-Mobile are following closely. If Google Wallet is to be successful, Google must find a way to strike deals with carriers that will benefit both parties. It won't be easy, for sure, but it's an absolute necessity.

Solution 2: Remember the Average Consumer

As noted, consumers really don't know much about Google Wallet. And since there are few devices and credit card companies that support it, they probably don't care. The onus is on Google to start marketing its service far more effectively and make consumers want to at least try it out. Marketing is central to Google Wallet's future success.

Solution 3: Strike Better Deals With Merchants

Google Wallet has partnerships with a host of major companies, including Macy's, CVS and Walgreens. But for Google Wallet to be successful, the search giant must bring the service to local merchants as well. Ubiquity is central to Google Wallet's success. And it's about time the search giant realizes that.

Solution 4: Get All Credit Card Companies Into the Fold

Google currently has a deal in place with MasterCard PayPass for its Wallet service. But for the offering to get off the ground, it needs to have many more agreements in place with credit card companies. Whether or not they will agree to those deals, of course, remains to be seen. But Google needs to try if it wants Wallet to be successful.

Solution 5: Make Security a Top Topic

Security is a major concern among mobile payment solutions. Whether or not it's justified is another story. But who cares? If Google can make the point that its offering is the "secure" source for mobile payment solutions, it can go a long way in establishing Wallet's position in that market. Security could very well be Google's Trojan horse.

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