Google Wallet is officially available beginning today. While the NFC-based mobile payment solution has been in testing in a handful of cities in the United States, the Wallet app is now rolling out to all Sprint Nexus S 4G phones through an over-the-air update.
Wallet is still very much in its infancy, however. The near-field communication (NFC) technology that enables wireless payments still requires hardware in both a device and a receiver at checkout. So unless you have a Nexus S 4G and your local Subway or local bodega has NFC-capable receivers at the register, you won’t be able to make your mobile payments just yet.
What’s most interesting is that “American Express, Discover, and Visa have made available their NFC specifications that could enable their cards to be added to future versions of Google Wallet,” according to Osama Bedier, Google VP of Payments. Regardless of how convenient and quick Wallet may be, it can’t take off without support from creditors other than Citi and Mastercard, the launch partners who have already signed on to Wallet. Some feared that the other banks mentioned might shun Google Wallet because they are partners with the other major U.S. mobile carriers in ISIS Mobile payments, but this gives hope that all major cards in the U.S. may support Google Wallet eventually.
In a related note, Google has acquired yet another daily deals company, only this time in Germany. Google purchased the Groupon-clone DailyDeal.de, which currently operates in Austria, Germany, and Switzerland. The announcement by the company’s founders says that Google Offers will be strengthened by this deal, so European users can expect to see a little more Google in their mobile shopping and payment experience in the future.