Google Reworking Wallet, Possible Service Launched At I/O May 2015

Apple Pay is only a few months old but in some corners of the world, it's already started to dominate the mobile contactless payment market. It's easy to see why; the iPhone is a top selling model and seen as a desirable choice by millions of customers all over the world. Seventy million in the fourth quarter, 2014, to put a number on it. Apple are still preparing their smartwatch model, simply called the Apple Watch, which will also incorporate Apple Pay: this blend of technology could start to sway Android users, lured by the "it just works" theory behind Apple's technology. Google currently does not offer a comparable technology but in quite typical Google fashion, isn't giving up yet. It's currently working on a revised, improved version of Google Wallet, which has been touted to be released at Google I/O 2015, in late May.

A report in the Wall Street Journal cites that Google is working to pull together an "unruly coalition of device makers, wireless carriers, banks and payment networks." The reason for the unruliness is simple: money. Each leg of the wireless payment business wants a slice of the revenue to be generated by the transactions. The Wall Street Journal explains that Google are willing to give its partners a larger share of revenues, which is in contrast with Apple Pay. Apple don't share revenue to carriers for Apple Pay as it has much tighter control over the process. This could ultimately hurt the system, because if Google's plans to involve (and incentivize) carriers, their support will help the next generation of Google Wallet succeed. Google is also reputed to be in discussion with bank and payment operators (notable MasterCard and VISA) and having these businesses onboard should give Google Wallet significant clout.

When it comes to device makes, Samsung have just announced the purchase of LoopPay, a mobile payment system using the magnetic card readers (and as such, it doesn't require NFC). It's expected that the new Galaxy S6 will include LoopPay technologies, but this puts a little question mark over Samsung supporting Google's revived Wallet proposition. It would be sensible for Samsung to support a new Google standard. Writing of competitor platforms to Google Wallet, we've also seen rumors that Google has been linked with buying Softcard, the payment system used and developed by AT&T, Sprint and Verizon (and believed to be the main reason why the US carriers tried to prevent Wallet's adoption).

Could a mobile, wireless, easy-to-use payment system persuade you to switch from an Android device to an Apple device? Or would you hold out until Google releases a competitive, comparable service? Let us know in the comments below.

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About the Author

David Steele

Senior Staff Writer
I grew up with 8-bit computers and moved into PDAs in my professional life, using a number of devices from early Windows CE clamshells and later. Today, my main devices are a Nexus 5X, a Sony Xperia Z Tablet and a coffee cup.