Google has just announced the official launch of Google Wallet. Google Wallet, if you recall, allows you to pay for products in the real world by tapping your NFC-enabled Android phone against a compatible card reader.
Google’s mobile payment system, Google Wallet, is now available to the public — for people who use Sprint Nexus S 4G phones and Citi MasterCards or Visa cards at least. The near-field communication and contact-less payment system was expected to launch this summer.
Now, there’s a bit of a catch: even if you’ve got an NFC-enabled Android phone, you might not be able to dive into Wallet just yet. Google is initially launching Wallet exclusively on the Sprint Nexus S, leaving AT&T/T-Mobile/etc. Nexus S owners waiting for their little taste of the future.
Google Wallet enables you to pay with your Citi MasterCard credit card and the Google Prepaid Card, which can be funded with any of your existing plastic credit cards. As a thanks to early adopters, we’re adding a $10 free bonus to the Google Prepaid Card if you set it up in Google Wallet before the end of the year.
Google Wallet — along with Google Offers — is built on an open platform that combines multiple credit cards, loyalty programs and offers at the point of sale. Payment is made by swiping your smartphone at checkout. Essentially, Google is turning your phone into your wallet.
The Google Wallet service must be associated with a Google account to begin using it. After agreeing to terms and conditions and entering a PIN, you can start the process of provisioning your cards to your account.
Mobile carriers have also begun working on their own competitor to Google Wallet. Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile are reportedly investing millions in Isis, their own mobile payment project. So far Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express have signed on to the service. It is expected to roll out sometime in 2012.