We’ve said it before, NFC (near field communications) is definitely the coming thing in cell phones. At least in the U.S. – a lot of the rest of the world has had it for a while now and is wondering what’s taking us so long. Well, maybe we’re finally ready to join the pay-with-your-phone party as Google announces Google Wallet.
Google envisions Wallet as more than just an alternative to credit cards, encompassing not just payments, but Google Offers and store loyalty cards, gift cards, tickets, and other things you might currently carry in your physical wallet. It could potentially bring a benefit similar to that of eReaders – keeping accessible many more items and materials for easy access than is practical with physical items. In the same way an eReader can carry a great number of books with you, rather than your anticipating which one you’ll want, the Wallet concept lets you have and access many more commerce-related items than anyone wants to try to keep track of now.
Security is always a concern whenever a new way to spend your money is introduced. You want to make sure you are the one doing the spending. In addition to requiring a PIN, Wallet keeps your card credentials in an isolated chip environment called Secure Element. The idea is that this keeps the financial information safe even if other parts of your phone should be compromised.
At launch, the application will work with Citi Mastercard accounts and a Google Prepaid Card that will work a bit like a digital debit card. In fact, Google will start you off with a $10 credit on the Prepaid Card to get you in the buying mood. The launch hardware will be the Nexus S 4G on Sprint, with planned expansion to other phones.
Are you ready to start paying for things with your phone and NFC? If you’ve been doing it for years, is there anything pay-by-phone newbies should know? Share your wisdom and concerns in the comments.