Google Wallet launched in May 2011. For a number of reasons – lack of NFC adoption, Sprint as the only initial carrier partner, limited to only USA – Google Wallet never caught on. In fact, the only person I know who uses Google Wallet is a friend of mine who works at Google (and as a result, I’m forced to use it too.)
Google Wallet recently announced integration with “leading Android apps and mobile sites.” With apps (like Airbnb and Priceline) and e-commerce destinations (such as Newegg.com and 1-800-Flowers), consumers can now check out using Google Wallet.
This new update deviates from Google’s original plan to replace traditional forms of payments at physical PoS, taking it away from competitors like Square and Paypal. Google addresses a more immediate pain point – transacting a purchase on a smartphone can often be confusing and cumbersome. Many e-commerce sites haven’t optimized their checkout process for mobile; the smaller screen makes it difficult to input my 16-digit credit card number, much less my billing and shipping address.
With a single sign-in button, Google Wallet may be best product positioned to decrease friction for smartphone purchases. It has the potential to streamline mobile purchases much in the same way that Amazon has perfected its checkout process.