Google has released a substantial update to its Google Wallet for Android app, doing away with the long-time requirement of a handset needing NFC technology to download the app. Google Wallet is now available on Google Play for all Android phones running version 2.3 and higher, letting non-NFC users send money and store loyalty cards and to sift through offers.
The app just became a lot more competitive to PayPal, which launched a massive update to its mobile apps with similar features to those Google Wallet has just added.
The ability to send money using Google Wallet was recently introduced inside of Gmail, but it is now extending further into the mobile space. With the Google Wallet app on Android you can now send money to anyone in the US directly from your bank account or Google Wallet balance. Google makes a small transaction fee if you use your linked credit or debit card. But the person you're sending fat stacks of cash doesn't need to have a Gmail address.
You won't be able to use the Google Wallet app like a physical credit card if you don't have NFC. But you do have access to loyalty card programmes at Avis Car Rental, BJ’s Restaurants, Cosi, Hard Rock International, InterContinental Hotels Group, Marriott International, Raley’s and The Body Shop. Google Now will notify you when a saved loyalty programme is found nearby. Google further says more loyalty schemes will be added.
In addition to loyalty cards, the app has offers redeemable at several stores via the Wallet app at checkout.
Of course, for the 29 NFC-packing handsets available on the market, users can find themselves able to "make secure payments fast and convenient by simply tapping the phone on any PayPass-enabled terminal at checkout". If not, go to Google Play for what could be a great shopping companion.
Google Wallet is only available in the US.