Google to launch payment card

Google to launch payment card

Rumored to work like a standard credit card, the Google Wallet card would work as a physical extension of its Wallet app, which it hopes will one day usher in the age of wireless and mobile payments. The story first came to light when an annoymous tipster emailed Android Police with screenshots of the card as well as evidence that they had applied for and successfully recieved a card, posted by the site last week.

The concept is pretty simple, whatever card is selected in the Wallet app on a user's phone is also the identity of the physical card. So users can switch between credit and debit cards with the touch of a button but only ever need to carry one card. It is designed for those situations where the shop or store in question is not equipped with the ‘tap and pay' system that the app usually requires to work. It also means that while the smartphone doesn't replace a wallet entirely, it does mean wallets will be much lighter as they'll only have to carry a single card.

Google Wallet is one of many payment systems using NFC (Near Field Communication) currently competing for market share. The problem is that very few smartphones (and no Apple devices) are NFC-equipped and even fewer retail chains have so far been prepared to invest in the technology. Most recent estimates put it at 2 percent of US retailers. A physical card would not only solve this chicken and egg situation in the short term (consumers won't buy NFC phones because merchants don't have NFC while merchants won't invest in the technology until there are more consumers using it), it will also open the service up to iPhone users as Apple has stated it has no immediate plans to support the technology until it's clear people need it.

As well as acting as a default credit card, the Google Wallet card will also allow users to transfer money on to it from bank accounts and to transfer payments between cards. The news comes less than a week after Google added an online shopping feature to the Wallet app to make internet shopping via smartphone simple and it's been less than a month since it also added a micropayments feature to the app so that users could make purchases of less than $1 online for accessing premium content.

In terms of a launch date, Google simply says ‘soon' and as for territories, there is no clear indicator that the card would be supported or available outside of the US when it does launch.