Google Wallet has arrived to mostly positive reception. “This is the future” remarked someone in my Twitter stream yesterday. According to Google themselves, Google Wallet is an Android app that makes your phone your wallet. You set up your phone with your credit or debit card details, then when you get to the checkout, simply tap your phone on the PayPass reader, and you’ve paid. It’s certainly quick and simple, and Google assure us that it’s secure. So let’s have a quick look at the good and bad points of this interesting new technology.
1. Less things to forget! For me this is the big plus – I’m always swapping my stuff between handbags, rucksacks and shopping bags depending whether I’m working, grocery shopping, or off for a weekend’s hiking. This can lead to bag malfunctions where I’ve leftmywallet in one bag, my phone in another bag, and my debit card in an “easy to remember safe place”. Google Wallet integrates all those things into one easy package…however, see con 1 below.
2. Quick and simple – no need to worry about having the right change, carrying enough cash, or remembering your pin number. But as always, there are two sides to every virtual coin. See con 2 below.
3. More of a reassurance than a pro – it won’t apparently randomly make payments in your pocket or bag when you’re walking round a shop.
4. Zero liability if used for unapproved transactions. In the same vein as credit cards and in some cases, debit cards, you’re not liable to pay for unapproved transactions if GW is used without your permission.
5. Coupons and offers. Google coupons and offers allow you to grab some bargain deals.
6. Helps to monitor money and set limits. You can set a text alert if approaching a limit on a particular type of expense. Whether your weakness is doughnuts, lipstick, or accessories for your pet emu, there’s no denying this is a handy feature.
1. Only one thing to steal. Pre-Google wallet, if your wallet gets pinched, at least you’ve still got your phone to call a mate. If your phone gets pinched, you can at least use a (gasp) payphone if you really need to. I am being a bit alarmist here though, as for the foreseeable future people are still going to be carrying cash as well as using Google Wallet, in the same way as they currently use both cash and cards.
2. That thing about not having to remember your pin number – you will still apparently have to enter a four digit pin number to activate Google Wallet. So not that different from using plastic, and it doesn’t necessarily provide a benefit to people who regularly struggle to remember their pin number.
And finally –
a pro/con depending upon your viewpoint.
Will be used to closely monitor your activity as a consumer. We’re already getting our spending habits monitored and linked with our consumer demographic every time we use a credit or debit card, shop online, or use a store loyalty card. Google Wallet and similar social media payment services will allow a far closer and more intensive monitoring of this activity. If you’re a market researcher or in a business that will benefit from this information, it’s great news. With your consumer hat on, you could see it in one of two ways – either it’s a good thing as allows businesses to supply you with more relevant advertising and less spam, or it’s a bad thing as, well frankly, it’s a bit creepy and big-brother, and it will allow advertisers to come up with increasingly more ingenious ways to try and persuade you to part with your hard-earned.
So – Google Wallet – quick, easy and handy, but it comes with the usual unknowns of any fresh technology. Personally, I’m giving it a go, as I need to keep a close eye on my monthly spend on novelty teapots.