Google Doubling Down on Wallet, Says Payments Chief (April 10, 2014)
Despite a somewhat bumpy rollout and several course-corrections, Google Wallet is here to stay, said the head of the tech giant’s payment division. Speaking at the Electronic Transactions Association’s Transact 2014 conference in Las Vegas this week, Google Head of Payments Ariel Bardin acknowledged the slow consumer take-up of Google Wallet since its debut nearly three years ago, but stressed that the company wasn’t abandoning the wallet anytime soon. Bardin highlighted the changes Google has made over the past year-plus, which he said have expanded the scope and functionality of the wallet well beyond its original focus of NFC-based transactions. “We started out with Google Wallet, which equaled NFC,” Bardin said, according to a CNET report. “We still do that, but now we offer many different types of payments and services.”
Bardin said a key evolution was bringing Google Wallet into the cloud. In November, Google announced that its latest Android mobile operating system would include host card emulation (HCE) technology, which enables payment credentials to be stored in the cloud rather than on a mobile device itself, eliminating the need for a secure element. The move was seen as an end-run around telecoms, which had been slow to support Google Wallet—largely due to having their own competing wallet in the market. “The technology we initially used relied on hardware, and there were a bunch of hurdles to get it out the door using that approach,” Bardin said, according to CNET. “So we asked ourselves if we could emulate the secure element in software, and make it a core service in Android.” Last month, Google announced that starting April 14, only phones equipped with the HCE-ready operating system would be able to use Google Wallet’s tap-to-pay feature.
The cloud-based approach also enables Google to add payment functions to its other services, including Gmail, and makes it easier for merchants to accept Google Wallet payments on their mobile Websites by linking directly to the payment information in the cloud.