When Google first announced its Wallet initiative, its launch partners were MasterCard and Citi. To beef up the offering, Google even announced its own prepaid card program. But the real intent was to add Visa (and its huge cadre of issuers) to match the bounty already brought by MasterCard. That’s been accomplished. Issuers on either card network should now be able to participate in Google Wallet. The Google Wallet approach could be more straightforward for card networks and issuers than the Isis competition as it reduces the mobile operator variable. It’s way too early to call the winner (and there will be more than one) but, like Isis before it, Google knew it had to support every card brand to gain the consumer and retailer traction it needs.
Google plans to fill that store with coupons and offers, as well as loyalty cards and hopefully (in time) boarding passes and train tickets. Operators have the same aspirations, and have launched national consortia in several countries to create storage pockets of their own, housed within SIM cards.
Google’s offering is physically inside the handset, so one can change operator or SIM without moving one’s account. The consortia systems allow one to change handsets without affecting the account, but lock the user to the network operator. Banks will probably provide instances of credit cards suitable for all the popular platforms, so users will have to decide if they want to be locked to their network operator, or the Chocolate Factory, but they’ll have to be locked somewhere.
This post suggests that most POS terminals now include NFC (contactless) support. That’s overstating the case today but we expect that percentage to reach predominance over the next few years –especially in the United States where an EMV-inspired forklift upgrade to POS terminals will be necessary.