Google Wallet, Google’s newest money making venture, has become official with the company signing up not just MasterCard, but Visa, American Express and Discover in the US and Europe.
"In May we announced Google Wallet - an app that makes your phone your wallet - with Citi, MasterCard, Sprint and First Data. With Google Wallet, you can tap, pay and save using your phone and near field communication (NFC)," the company states on its blog.
Following extensive tests, the first version of the app has now gone live, however there is a catch: it’s only available to customers using the Google Nexus S 4G on Sprint in the US, and even then only when using a specific card from Citi bank.
Niche is probably the best way to describe it.
"Our goal is to make it possible for you to add all of your payment cards to Google Wallet, so you can say goodbye to even the biggest traditional wallets," says Google. Clearly the hope is that the rest of us that carry a different phone, and bank with a different bank, and well, use a different network, will be excited.
In Europe the news is slightly more promising, but by no means finalised with the usual chicken and egg debate over infrastructure versus devices still raging.
Visa has confirmed that it granted Google a worldwide licence to Visa payWave, its NFC-based payment technology. The licence allows Visa-issuing banks to offer Visa account holders the chance to add their debit, credit and prepaid cards to Google Wallet.
What does that mean? Well the global nature of the licence means that Visa's European member banks will be able to offer the same service when it launches in other regions outside of the USA.
"Mobile payments are reaching a tipping point in Europe: we believe that 2012 will be the year that new payment technologies such as mobile and contactless achieve mainstream consumer acceptance," said Peter Ayliffe, CEO of Visa Europe on the news.
Visa are one of the best placed companies to embrace the Google Wallet service with over 70,000 contactless terminals in the UK and a total of 150,000 around Europe.
It has already done deals with Samsung and Orange to offer contactless payment services (via the Wave 578) and is now promising more products and services in the coming weeks:
"In the next few weeks we will be announcing further new products and services that mark yet another piece of the overall picture: each one is a stepping stone towards the next evolution of the payments industry. Ultimately, working with our partners and our member banks, we are enabling consumers to make payments at any time, in any place, and from any device."