As previously discussed, the increased traction of the mobile market has opened many doors in terms of potential innovation down the road; not only in mobile-specific industries, but in industries that stand to benefit from continued mobile growth as well. Because “smartphones” such as the Apple iPhone and the wide range of Android-based devices have become fixtures for many individuals it only makes sense that industries of all spectrums should (and indeed are) conforming to mobile users by developing products and services that are specifically focused around mobile devices. Recently the Internet has seen quite a buzz of speculation relating to RFID technology that if developed and marketed correctly could very easily make mobile phones a standard method of payment; leaving plastic banking cards (and even paper cash) in the dust.
Personally, I had up until yesterday developed the opinion that Apple would be the first company to bring mobile payment platforms into the mainstream for millions of uses to take advantage of. However it seems that Google has been actively working to develop and refine their own mobile payment transaction system, which they announced yesterday and will be testing in the New York and San Francisco regions later this summer.
Dubbed “Google Wallet”, the Mountain View based company’s latest innovation will allow users to synchronize their banking card information into their mobile phones (that is, those running Android; at least for the time being) and then use said devices to complete transactions at stores sporting MasterCard’s “PayPass” service.
As it stands now, the service looks to be extremely limited. It appears that only Citi Bank customers will be able to link their cards to their devices to start off with, although customers of other banking institutions will also be able to pay into a pre-paid service with Google so that they too can checkout at point-of-sale locations as well.
For Google, I must say that this is an amazing venture and I sincerely believe that they will be very successful. You see, this particular move will bring Google up to and above par with all of their competitors in the consumer-driven mobile payment industry. You see, the company will not have only undercut Apple by striking on the new market first, but they will also be in a better position to innovate and further develop other aspects of their business to compete with services such as PayPal and Groupon.
You see, Google’s existing user-base for the Android mobile platform means that there are an incredibly amount of users who have the ability to take advantage of Google’s latest offerings if they so choose. This means that if Google is able to play their cards right and convince users to jump on board with their mobile payment service they will ultimately be increasing the popularity of what will then be their sister product; Google Checkout. After all, it makes sense to assume that these two services would become incredibly well-integrated, and the success on the mobile front would surely boost the popularity of Google Checkout as well. What does this mean? PayPal has to watch out.
Likewise, Google Wallet will easily be able to compete with “social discount” services like Groupon because of the fact that their mobile application will integrate such “coupons” directly into the app. This means that users will be able to use their phones to receive discounts at supported stores, and then tie said discounts directly into the transaction and payment process. Don’t get me wrong, Groupon is a great concept. But with this type of deep integration, Google has a standing chance at blowing Groupon out of the water.
Being Google, I don’t see where there should be a huge worry in terms of data security. With Google’s recognition for developing web-based communications and collaboration platforms that are currently employed by millions of individuals and in industries of every scale, I think it’s safe to say that the company has their bases covered when it comes to protecting user data. Nonetheless, I think that this is going to be one of Google’s toughest sells. You see, even though people worry about the security of their emails and whatnot they typically worry about the security of their money more; especially when they are placing their hands in a company like Google that started out and still has grass-roots in data-mining. Having said this, Google Wallet is going to be a somewhat challenging sell to customers to begin with but I’m confident that once it becomes time-proven to a certain extent.