Google has refused to outline plans to extend its contactless payment trials outside of the United States, but has not ruled out the possibility of its move to Australia in future.
Launched by the search giant in partnership with Citi, MasterCard, First Data and US telco Sprint, the Google Wallet would ultimately look to replace plastic cards and the traditional wallet by utilising a Near Field Communications (NFC) chip in compatible mobile phones. When it officially launches in the United States later this year, users will be able to make payments through the NFC-capable Google Nexus S smartphone through MasterCard’s PayPass contactless payment technology or a prepaid Google account. Support would eventually be rolled out for other smartphones equipped with NFC chips.
The service would also ultimately allow users to redeem vouchers and discounts already advertised through Google.
The search giant said the service would be accepted at more than 124,000 stores in the United States and more than 311,000 internationally. MasterCard announced in March that its PayPass technology was available at 35,000 stores in Australia.
Google has promoted NFC and its possible use for mobile payments for some time, introducing it as a key feature of the Android 2.3 operating system.
It is rumoured Apple could add the feature to the next iteration of its popular iPhone smartphone, potentially greatly expand the market for contactless payments globally.
Visa recently ran a month-long trial of the technology using a custom iPhone case and microSD card with its own payWave contactless technology among 50 staff members from Visa and ANZ. The results of the trial are as yet unknown.
Nevertheless, Australia has often been relegated as a small market not important enough for the technology. Samsung, the manufacturer of the Nexus S 4G smartphone for Google, recently released its own branded Galaxy II S smartphone locally sans NFC capability, citing low demand in the Australian market.
Many of Google’s services suffer from a delayed Australian rollout. A precursor to the Wallet trial, Google’s PayPal competitor Checkout, became available in Australia last August after four years of service in the US alongside the launch of the new Google Voice feature within Gmail.
Google Checkout allows Australian users to make purchases across participating websites with one set of the user’s financial details, while also allowing them to accept payment for services and goods. The ability ultimately allowed Australian Android developers to sell paid apps on the Android Market. The feature was accidentally made available locally in September.
Analysts have warned that contactless payment technology offers potential security risks.
Follow Techworld Australia on Twitter: @Techworld_Au