Google launches the app that makes your phone a wallet, partners with MasterCard, Visa, AmEx

The long-awaited launch of Google’s mobile payments solution, Google Wallet, has finally arrived in the form of a smartphone application.

Google has partnered with Citi, MarsterCard, Sprint and First Data to offer the service that lets consumers “tap, pay and save using your phone and near field communication (NFC).”

Google Wallet is initially limited to Nexus S 4G Android phone owners on the Sprint network in the US who have a PayPass-enabled Citi MarsterCard credit card or Google prepaid card. Due to these factors, only a small number of consumers will use Google Wallet at launch, but that does not trivialize the impact the project will have on the mobile payment industry.

“The limited availability of Google Wallet makes the launch largely symbolic in many respects. But because of Google’s brand clout and visibility mobile payments are now on the radar. And intensifying competition guarantees innovation will continue to happen,” writes Search Engine Land.

Juniper Research estimates that the mobile payments market will reach $670 billion by 2015 due to consumers’ rapid adoption of NFC contactless payments, mobile ticketing, physical goods purchases and money transfers via mobile phones.   

Google is not alone in championing next generation payment solutions. Big name businesses such as Visa, MasterCard and PayPal plus smaller startups like Square are putting their weight behind mobile payments.

Google intends to befriend some of the biggest players and has revealed its intentions to partner with Visa, American Express and Discover to add their cards to Google Wallet in the future.

“When we announced Google Wallet, we pledged a commitment to an open commerce ecosystem. We appreciate Citi and MasterCard for being our launch partners. And today, Visa, Discover and American Express have made available their NFC specifications that could enable their cards to be added to future versions of Google Wallet,” says Google Vice President of Payments Osama Bedier.

“Our goal is to make it possible for you to add all of your payment cards to Google Wallet, so you can say goodbye to even the biggest traditional wallets,” adds Bedier.

Google has begun rolling out Google Wallet as an over-the-air update on Sprint Nexus S 4G phones. The application can also be downloaded at http://www.google.com/wallet/.

A demo of the service in action can be viewed here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DsaJMhcLm_A

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