Mobile payments are a big deal and have become one of the fastest-growing game-changers in the consumer market. We’ve talked about several of these, the two largest being Apple’s work-in-progress Mobile-Pay and Google’s Wallet. Google, staying ahead of Apple in both mobile sales (Android now holds roughly 75% of the mobile market) and mobile payments has let slip plans to integrate a credit card-like option for Wallet users.
This may seem like a step backward, since the whole idea of mobile payments is to avoid using or carrying credit and debit cards and just use your phone to pay for things. So far, however, mobile payments have proven to be clunky and are not widely used. This can be likened to electric cars on the automotive plain – they’re a good idea, but they aren’t seeing wide adoption yet because, well, there just isn’t the infrastructure for them.
So with a Wallet Card, a user could hold a hbyrid (as it were) that bridges the gap between the lack of infrastructure (near-universal support for Wallet) and the desire to shed the physical wallet with all of its cards and cash.
How Wallet Card Works
The idea is pretty simple. The card operates as a credit card and works anywhere credit cards are accepted. It’s tied to the owner’s Wallet account and charges to that account, which in turn is linked to a bank or credit card. This adds the convenience of only carrying one card (no wallet needed) and the practicality of having something that works universally.
Google Wallet users can apply for a card through their Wallet account. The app already has it in place, though physical cards may not be available yet. Google says that this is being implemented right now, but hadn’t made a public announcement yet. Astute Wallet users noticed the option and word spread online quickly.
Other Wallet Changes
Other additions are being implemented in Wallet as well. It seems Google is waiting for these to complete testing and become ready for announcement before publicly announcing Cards.
These changes are significant for those who use Wallet. One is the ability to deposit and withdraw from your Wallet balance and will probably integrate with the Play Store account in Android. This will include person-to-person money transfers (ala PayPal) and transit cards.
For now, it’s mainly being done in the U.S. but it’s likely that Canadian users will see these additions to their Wallet soon.