Google Wallet May Appear in Physical Card Form

Customers who use the Google Wallet application on their Android devices may soon have a new option for payments through a physical Wallet card.

The search engine giant’s electronic payment system, Google Wallet, may still be a fledgling technology, but the company is getting ready to introduce a physical, card-based version of the platform, according to screen shots posted on the Website Android Police. The site published images showing the card, which would be accepted wherever debit and credit cards are accepted. Through the Google Wallet app, users can add their debit or credit cards to the Wallet account and, therefore, only have to carry the one card instead of numerous plastic slabs. If the physical Wallet card is lost, the user simply cancels the Wallet card instead of all the cards.

The card would also allow users to access special deals and exclusive offers that could be instantly redeemed. Google is also offering 24/7 fraud monitoring for Wallet customers. On the company’s Wallet Website, potential customers can request an invite for the next version of Wallet. When using the Wallet application to make in-store purchases, users simply tap the back of the phone at the point of sale to pay. Wallet uses near-field communication (NFC) technology to transmit payment details in a secure and wireless manner. Users receive a payment confirmation after they tap the contactless reader to the point-of-sale device.

The technology behind Wallet, NFC, enables data transmission between two objects when they are brought within a few inches of each other. Smartphones enabled with NFC technology can exchange data with other NFC-enabled devices or read information from smart tags embedded in posters, stickers and other products.

A variety of Android-powered devices support NFC technology, an advantage Android smartphones and tablets have over rival Apple’s mobile devices. Eight Android devices currently support Wallet, according to Google’s Website, although in all cases it depends on which wireless carrier the users has. So far, the application does not support international purchases.

An August report from Juniper Research said mobile-payment transactions are expected to rise nearly fourfold over the next five years, exceeding $1.3 trillion, encouraged by the increased engagement of wireless carriers and increasingly widespread rollout of NFC infrastructures. Despite these advances, the purchase of goods over mobile phones will account for only 4 percent of global retail transactions by 2017, the report projected.

"While we are now seeing significant deployments of contactless infrastructure, consumer awareness is extremely low," report author Windsor Holden said in an Aug. 16 statement. "Thus, it is imperative for all members of the NFC value chain to engage with the public to heighten its profile of a simple, intuitive payment mechanism."