Google May 26 introduced Google Wallet, the search engine’s long-rumored mobile payment service. The liberated service, unveiled at an event at Google’s extensive New York office, comprises a free Google application that users can download to tap their phone and pay for merchandise from participating merchants, such as RadioShack. Citigroup and MasterCard are offering the mobile purchase services, which will be allowed by special point of sale registers equipped with near-field communications (NFC). NFC is the wireless technology that enables devices equipped with particular chips and sensors to talk when brought in close closeness to one another.
While little used in the U.S., Google officials said they expect NFC to roll out on 50 million smart phones in the next few years. Sprint is partnering with Google to offer its Samsung Nexus S 4G Smartphone for this experimental service. The Nexus S 4G, which includes an NFC controller chip from NXP, runs Google’s Android 2.3 "Gingerbread" operating system, which includes native NFC support. Google Wallet is coming to New York and San Francisco in a testing run this summer, with growth to added cities and smart phones in the future. Coca-Cola vending machines and even taxis are PayPass-enabled, including major outlets such as CVS, Jack in the Box, Sports Authority and Sunoco. Take this picture tour of the service in this eWEEK slide show, which we unruffled live from the event.
"No one has seen Google Wallet implemented and we don’t expect to see it for months. A cohesive overview of it is not possible. For all of NFC, there hasn’t been a lot of use. It’s as safe as RFID technology and that’s widely implemented. But there are also plenty of researchers out there who have defeated RFID and gotten direct access to a device or an antenna with flickers. Nothing is 100 percent secure, but it’s as safe as anything that’s out there," Armstrong said.
"If a user enters the PIN incorrectly too many times, the Secure Element is disabled and cannot be used for payment until it has been reset by a combination of the issuing bank, the Trusted Service Manager, and the user. Resetting the PIN requires the user to provision their credit cards to the Wallet, thereby forcing a would-be thief to provision all the card credentials from scratch," said Osama Bedier, vice president of payments at Google.