Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) Wallet is going to be available on as many as 10 new Sprint (NYSE:S) phones in 2012, according to the creator of the mobile payment service.
Wallet is an application users may download from Google’s Android Market. The program works in concert with near-field communication (NFC) sensors, allowing users to tap and pay for goods at checkout counters in retail stores such as Macy’s and American Eagle Outfitters.
Wallet has seen little adoption because it has only been available on Sprint’s Android-based Samsung Nexus S smartphone since the service launched in New York and San Francisco last September. Sprint will support Wallet on its Samsung Galaxy Nexus when that handset is available later this year.
The payment service has also experienced some bad press after security researchers last month revealed how Wallet can be hacked. Osama Bedier, vice president of Google Wallet and payments, argued that Wallet is very secure.
It was Bedier who promised at Mobile World Congress March 1 that U.S. consumers can expect Wallet to arrive on “at least 10 additional phones” this year. In addition to the Galaxy Nexus, this will include the LG Viper.
FierceMobileContent also noted that Bedier said Google remains in talks with other operators, device OEMs, banks, financial service firms and point-of-sale technology vendors on Wallet.
That should certainly boost Wallet’s availability and profile among consumers looking to buy new Android smartphones this year.
Wallet’s profile should also get a boost from AT&T, Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile’s forthcoming Isis mobile payment joint venture. That service will go live this year in field tests in Austin, Texas, and Salt Lake City.
Yet mobile experts would argue Wallet’s biggest problem isn’t narrow availability, security or competition. Rather, it’s the lack of impetus to get people to use their smartphones to pay for goods. NFC-based payments are simply an unproven market in the U.S. at this time.
Google believes it has incentive for users to flock to Wallet with Google Offers. Offers is the company’s Groupon clone service that entices consumers with discounts of 50 percent off or more for goods and services. Offers is live in dozens of cities around the country.
However, it is unclear how popular the service is.