Google becomes the latest company to try to turn your cell phone into a digital wallet, with today’s announcement of cleverly named Google Wallet. The app is designed to turn any Android-powered phone with compatible data capabilities into a substitute for your credit cards. Right now, that’s limited to just one phone, Google’s own Nexus S 4G.
According to Google, the app will “eventually hold many if not all of the cards you keep in your leather wallet today.”
Google Wallet has been designed for an open commerce ecosystem. It will eventually hold many if not all of the cards you keep in your leather wallet today. And because Google Wallet is a mobile app, it will be able to do more than a regular wallet ever could, like storing thousands of payment cards and Google Offers but without the bulk. Eventually your loyalty cards, gift cards, receipts, boarding passes, tickets, even your keys will be seamlessly synced to your Google Wallet. And every offer and loyalty point will be redeemed automatically with a single tap via NFC.
Google says that the payment system will be secure, and will require users to enter a PIN before making purchases. The company will test-market the service in New York and San Francisco before rolling it out nationally. Of course, unless you already have a Nexus S 4G, you’ll need to get a new phone to use the app. Don’t want a Nexus? Just wait. Google estimates that half of all smartphones will support near-field communication by 2014.