Get ready for another huge change in the way that we interact with our smart phones. In fact, if all the changes go through and are accepted by the public in general in the long-term we might find that the only thing we carry in our pockets or purses are our smart phones. That’s right, you won’t have a wallet with any credit cards therein and you won’t even have the keys to your car or the keys to your house.
Here comes the Google Wallet. This is the branded initiative put forward by the search engine giant to allow us to pay for goods at a point-of-sale by simply using our phone. The technology at the POS would be able to scan details found within your phone’s smart chip that carry your credit details, enabling you to pay for your goods without producing a credit card or cash. The big American service provider Sprint seems to be on board, but the other competitors in that market are said to be introducing their own NFC-based platform, using multiple banks and payment services in 2012.
Will you be willing to sign up for something like Google Wallet and put your faith in your mobile phone provider and technology to keep everything safe and secure? This seems to be a question that many are asking and some analysts believe that such a program will only be successful if it’s linked with other elements – like combined loyalty rewards and location specific carrots.
If, for example, the vendor is able to send you an instant message to your phone through SMS, offering you an enticing deal when you are adjacent to their property, then you might be tempted to indulge, rack up your loyalty points and pay using your Google Wallet, for example. Currently, in the United States there are over 124,000 retail stores that have “near field communications” enabled point-of-sale terminals, ready for this type of transactional technology. Google is also supposed to be offering a coupon service known as Google Offers, what an original name, right? We consumers will be able to scan coupons sent to our smart phones and then link it all up to the Wallet application at the point of redemption.
These advances come at the same time as we’re hearing about phones being used to unlock the car and even the home. All of this does, however, lead to questions of security which will be first and foremost on the minds of those who might take this up. Some people think that technology overload is going to be the biggest enemy of this kind of scheme in the near future. There is also quite a bit of resistance when it comes to the issues of credit and credit cards in general these days. Who is going to be ultimately responsible for the credit card information that’s stored within the phone? Is it Google, the carrier, the technology provider, you, the merchant?
Even though they say that the NFC chip that is stored within the phone is going to be pretty secure and is designed to “self-destruct” if somebody messes with it, I think they may have a bit of a struggle convincing everyone of its relative merits in the beginning.
Nevertheless, those people who simply cannot wait to get their hands on any kind of new technology will almost certainly be falling over themselves to be the cool kid on the block in these early days. As we can already use our phones to make certain SMS related payments and other transactions that may be vulnerable in security terms, maybe it’s not too much of a leap of faith to think that Google Wallet may, in fact, work
Martha Christie is a Marketing Evangelist within Purple Cow Ideas Management – an organisation that facilitates a paradigm shift in the collaborative nature of the ICT Industry. You can follow us on Twitter and join the conversation on Facebook.