Despite my concerns about the privacy of purchasing data that goes into Google Wallet, I’m stoked to try out NFC payments.
I guess the promise of a less bulky wallet is too attractive, and plus, I love shiny objects.
So, when I received my $10 prepaid card offer from Google today, I jumped at the chance to take Wallet for a spin.
After nervously scanning and agreeing to the terms, the initialization process went quickly, and my prepaid card showed up right away under Payment cards, as expected. Now, to find one of those MasterCard PayPass locations. Happily, there’s an app for that.
There were a surprising number of PayPass locations nearby. The Nexus S on Sprint is the only NFC-capable phone I know of on the market right now, making for a pretty small addressable customer base for these terminals. Maybe MasterCard was prepopulating them in advance of the Wallet rollout.
Anyway, a quick glance showed that Rite Aid, 7-Eleven and McDonald’s stores all seem to have those POS systems, so I had some options.
With that $10 burning a hole in my proverbial pocket, I headed out to McDonald’s, hoping to parlay my $10 from Google into some Monopoly prizes. You know how I love game layers. Plus, the odds are 1 in 4, and I’ve already won a breakfast sandwich.
Anyway, to use Wallet, all you need to do is pass the back of the phone over the terminal. There’s an audible confirmation noise, and that’s it. No fuss, no mess.
The woman working the counter was as impressed as I was at how cool the whole thing was. She said that was the first time she remembered anyone paying that way.
Overall, it’s a super cool and convenient way to pay for stuff, but there are some limitations.
For one, only one phone is supported. Also, these terminals aren’t in many stores. And only the Citi MasterCard and the American Eagle Outfitters gift card are supported for payments. There may be other options, but I can’t really tell by looking at the app.
Wallet also supports loyalty cards, which is something I really want, but only for AEO and Office Max.
So, as with many Google services, Wallet feels like it’s in beta. However, looking at the list of stuff that’s constrained right now, I expect many of these to go away in the next year, especially if Apple adds NFC to the iPhone.
At Google IO this year, Matt (@topperge) and I chatted about how we’d love to get a Nexus S if only to play with the NFC stuff. I’m not disappointed.
The future looks very cool. Now, if only I could trust Google with my purchasing history.
Oh, if you’re wondering, I didn’t win anything at Monopoly, at least not yet.
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