Google Wallet
Developer(s)Google
Initial releaseJuly 18, 2022; 21 months ago (2022-07-18)
Operating system
Service nameGoogle Wallet
(or Wallet for short)
TypeDigital wallet app
Websitewallet.google Edit this on Wikidata

Google Wallet (or simply Wallet) is a digital wallet platform developed by Google. It is available for the Android, Wear OS, and Fitbit OS operating systems, and was announced on May 11, 2022, at the 2022 Google I/O keynote. It began rolling out on Android smartphones on July 18.

History

The "Google Wallet" brand name was first used for the company's mobile payment system of the same name, which was introduced in 2011 before being merged with Android Pay into a new app called Google Pay in 2018.[1][2] The old Wallet app, with its functionality reduced to a peer-to-peer payments service, was rebranded Google Pay Send before it was discontinued as well in 2020.[3] In 2020, the Google Pay app underwent an extensive redesign based on Google's India-focused Tez app, expanding into an all-encompassing personal finance app.[4] This replaced the Tez app on the Play Store, while the 2018 Google Pay app continued to co-exist as a separate, pre-installed app on Android smartphones.[5][6]

Google Wallet (2011) launches

Google demonstrated the original version of the original Google Wallet app at a press conference on May 26, 2011. The first app was released in the US only on September 19, 2011. Initially, the app only supported Mastercard cards issued by Citibank.

On May 15, 2013, Google announced the integration of Google Wallet and Gmail, allowing users to send money through Gmail attachments. While Google Wallet was available only in the United States, the Gmail integration was made available in the U.S. and the United Kingdom.

In 2015, a physical Google Wallet card was launched as an optional addition to the app, which allowed users to make purchases at point-of-sale (in stores or online) drawing from funds in their Google Wallet account, attached debit card account, or bank account. The card could also be used to withdraw cash at ATMs with no Google-associated fee, and could be used like a debit card for virtually any purpose, including such things as renting a car. The Wallet Card was discontinued on June 30, 2016, and replaced with Android Pay.

The original version of Google Wallet allowed users to make point-of-sale purchases with their mobile devices using near-field communication (NFC) technology. As of September 2015, however, Google dropped NFC from Google Wallet, offering the technology only through Android Pay, which was a separate application available only to Android users. As a result, any gift cards, loyalty programs, and promotional offers stored in an older version of Google Wallet could no longer be used.

Android Pay launches

Originally launched as Android Pay, the service was released at Google I/O 2015. Android Pay was a successor to and built on the base established by Google Wallet which was released in 2011.[7] It also used technology from the carrier-backed Softcard—Google had acquired its intellectual property in February 2015.[8][9] At launch, the service was compatible with 70% of Android devices and was accepted at over 700,000 merchants.[8] The old Google Wallet still powered web-based Play Store purchases and some app-based peer-to-peer payments.[8]

The logo of the former branding of the service, Android Pay

In 2016, Google began a public trial in Silicon Valley of a related mobile app called Hands Free. In this system, the customer does not need to present a phone or card. Instead, a customer announces that they wish to "pay with Google" and give their initials to the cashier, who verifies their identity with a photo previously uploaded to the system. The customer's phone will only authorize payment if its geographic location system indicates that it is near a participating store.[10][11]

On September 18, 2017, Google launched a payments app in India known as Tez, utilizing the Unified Payments Interface (UPI).[12] On August 28, 2018, Google rebranded Tez to Google Pay.[13]

Android Pay and Google Wallet become Google Pay

Google Pay acceptance mark

On January 8, 2018, Google announced that Google Wallet would be merged into Android Pay, with the service as a whole rebranded as Google Pay.[14][15] This merger extends the platform into web-based payments integrated into other Google and third-party services. It also took over the branding of Google Chrome's autofill feature.[16] Google Pay adopts the features of both Android Pay and Google Wallet through its in-store, peer-to-peer, and online payments services.[17][14]

The rebranding began to roll out as an update to the Android Pay app on February 20, 2018; the app was given an updated design and now displays a personalized list of nearby stores that support Google Pay.[18][19][20] The rebranded service provided a new API that allows merchants to add the payment service to websites, apps, Stripe, Braintree, and Google Assistant.[21] The service allows users to use the payment cards they have on file in their Google Account.[22]

Google Pay becomes Google Wallet (2022)

In January 2022, Bloomberg News reported that the company was planning to transform Google Pay into a "comprehensive digital wallet",[23] following the app's reported slow growth and the shutdown of Plex.[24][25] In April, it was reported that Google was planning to revive the "Google Wallet" branding in a new app or interface, and integrated with Google Pay.[26][27] Google officially announced Google Wallet on May 11, 2022, at the 2022 Google I/O keynote.[28] The app began rolling out on Android smartphones on July 18, replacing the 2018 app and co-existing with the 2020 Google Pay app in the U.S.[6][29] While the app name itself was changed from Google Pay to Google Wallet, the service name of actually paying for things online or in-store remains as "Google Pay."

International deployment

Upon its UK launch,[when?] Android Pay supported Mastercard, Visa, and debit cards from many of the UK's major financial institutions – including Bank of Scotland, First Direct, Halifax, HSBC, Lloyds Bank, M&S Bank, MBNA and Nationwide Building Society – "with new banks being added all the time", according to Google.[citation needed] Natwest, RBS and Ulster Bank launched on September 14, 2016. On September 8, 2016, it was reported that UK banks TSB and Santander would be participating in the following weeks.[30] Android Pay was launched in Singapore on June 28, 2016[31] and in Australia on July 14, 2016.[32][33]

Android Pay launched in Ireland on December 7, 2016, and was initially available to customers of AIB and KBC, having since been extended to Bank of Ireland and Ulster Bank. The service works with both credit and debit cards.[34]

On December 21, 2018, Google Payment obtained an e-money license in Lithuania – the license will enable Google to process payments, issue e-money, and handle electronic money wallets in the EU.[35][36]

On November 17, 2020, Google Pay was enabled by Mastercard in ten new European countries: Austria, Bulgaria, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands, Portugal, and Romania.[37] Cardholders of participating Mastercard partner banks for these countries will be able to use the Google Pay service through their respective mobile banking apps.[38]

On June 30, 2022, it was announced at the Google for Mexico event that Google Pay & the Google Wallet app would soon be available in Mexico.[39]

Features

Google Wallet allows users to store items such as payment cards for use via Google Pay, as well as passes such as loyalty cards, digital keys, digital identification cards, transit passes, event tickets, and health passes.[40]

Digital car keys in Google Wallet can still be utilized when the screen is off or the battery is depleted. However, unlike most other secure element-based digital wallets, such as Samsung Wallet, Huawei Wallet, and Apple Wallet, this functionality does not extend to transit cards.[41][42][43][44]

Although the Wear OS and Android versions of Wallet are currently fragmented, Google has stated that its "long-term goal is for feature parity on your watch and phone."[45]

Comparison between phone and wearable versions

Feature Android Wear OS Fitbit OS Notes
Pay with EMV payment cards via Google Pay Yes Partial Partial Some payment cards are not supported on Wear OS & Fitbit OS.

Notable examples include the Google Pay balance Visa & PayPal balance Mastercard (when linked via PayPal account; physical cards are compatible with Wear OS).

Pay with FeliCa payment cards via Google Pay Yes Yes No For Wear OS:

Only for Pixel Watches and Galaxy Watch6 devices purchased in Japan.[46][47][48]

Pay via QR code Yes No No For Android:

Only available in Brazil.

Store passes[49] Yes Partial No For Wear OS:

Private passes are not supported. Smart Tap (NFC) passes only show their fallback QR code/barcode/number.

Store campus identifications Yes No No
Store corporate badges Yes No No
Store government-issued identifications Yes No No
Store digital car keys Yes No No For Android:

Only for select devices, most notably Pixel Fold, Pixel 6, & Pixel 6a or later devices.

Store MIFARE/ITSO/EMV transit cards Yes Partial No For Wear OS:

Only SmarTrip, Clipper, and PRESTO are supported.

For Fitbit OS:

iPASS cards can be stored through Fitbit Wallet instead (in any region.)

Store FeliCa transit cards Yes Partial No For Android:

Only for supported devices purchased in Japan.

For Wear OS:

Only for Suica on Pixel Watches and Galaxy Watch6 devices purchased in Japan.[50][51]

For Fitbit OS:

Suica cards can be stored through Fitbit Wallet instead (Fitbit account region must be set to Japan.)

Store FeliCa e-money cards Yes No No For Android:

Only for supported devices purchased in Japan.

Skip device unlock & Battery depletion

Most NFC passes can be transmitted when the Android device is locked, but the screen must be lit (Always On Display does not count.) This includes compatible transit cards, loyalty passes, tickets, and campus IDs. However, government IDs can only be used when the device is unlocked.[52]

Only one class of NFC passes allows usage when the screen is unlit or the battery is depleted: car keys.[53]

Usage

Passes and cards stored in Wallet require varying levels of authentication in order to convey to a reader.[54][55][56]

Feature Android Wear OS Fitbit OS
Pay with EMV payment cards via Google Pay Phone on, phone unlocked. To pay with non-default, Wallet app must be open to desired card. Watch on, watch unlocked, Wallet app open. Watch on, watch unlocked, Wallet app open.
Pay with FeliCa payment cards via Google Pay Phone on, phone unlocked to pay with default iD/QUICPay card. To pay with non-default, Wallet app must be open to the desired card. Watch on, watch unlocked to pay with default iD/QUICPay card. To pay with non-default, Wallet app must be open to desired card.
Pay via QR code Phone on, phone unlocked, Wallet app open & ready to scan QR.
Use code-based or visual passes (excluding visual transit passes) Phone on, phone unlocked, Wallet app open & viewing desired pass. Watch on, watch unlocked, Wallet app open & viewing desired pass.
Use general NFC (Smart Tap) passes Phone on, phone screen lit. Some Pixel devices will wake their own screen when presented to an NFC reader.
Use private passes Phone on, phone unlocked, Wallet app open, authenticate additional time.
Use government-issued identifications Phone on, phone unlocked, verify shared info. Additional step of opening the Wallet app is required if scanning 2D code instead of NFC.
Use digital car keys Phone can be on or off for use via NFC. For UWB, phone must be on.
Use MIFARE/ITSO/EMV transit cards Phone on, phone screen lit. Some Pixel devices will wake their own screen when presented to an NFC reader. Watch on, watch unlocked, Wallet app open. For transit networks that accept both open loop payment cards and closed loop transit cards in Wallet, the transit card must be viewed in Wallet to be transmitted in place of the payment card.
Use FeliCa transit cards Phone can be on or off. Watch on, watch unlocked.

Pass Transfers

When switching devices or factory resetting, passes that are limited to one device have the potential to be lost, as Android/Wear OS does not automatically remove data from Wallet when the aforementioned processes are initiated. The user must remember to clear device-specific passes, such as transit cards, IDs, and keys, from their current devices.[57]

Ecosystem

"Add to Google Wallet" badge

Google Wallet has a passes feature, which exists in a larger ecosystem. They are presented below the user's payment cards and can be sorted manually. Developers must first be granted access to the Google Wallet API before they can author such items.[58] Passes can be shared to other users via a link, so long as the issuer of said pass does not restrict its addition to more than one user's Wallet.[59]

In its simplest form, an interaction (or transaction) between a pass and a system is facilitated by a 1D or 2D code, although it requires the customer to initiate the activity. Passes can also contain nothing but plain text or an image.

In addition to retailer-specific passes, Google Wallet also supports contactless student IDs that can be added through the Transact eAccounts and CBORD GET Mobile applications.[60] Government-issued IDs are also supported in four American states: Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, and Maryland.[61][62][63]

Smart Tap

Google Wallet offers Smart Tap technology for use by developers and merchants that enables NFC passes to be stored within a customer's Google Wallet for use at a compatible terminal. Google offers the technology free of charge through the Google Pay & Wallet Console. Each pass issuer is given a Collector ID to use to configure their compatible terminals. If multiple passes within a user's Wallet match a terminal's Collector ID, a carousel will appear when tapping, allowing the user to tap their device, swipe to the next pass, and then repeat the process until all desired passes are transmitted.[64]

This technology is currently used by a variety of businesses worldwide for a wide range of uses. Walt Disney World Resort (USA), Ticketmaster (USA & UK), and Pathé Cinémas (France) use it for ticketing.[65][66] Redbox (USA), Nando's (UK & Ireland), and Woolworth's (Australia) use it for loyalty programs.[67][68][69] And Anytime Fitness (USA), Keepcool (France), & David Lloyd Clubs (UK) use it for memberships.[70][71][72]

Financial Services

Google Pay

Google Pay is a service within Wallet that allows for payments with select banks and card networks. Currently available in all the same countries Wallet is available in, with the addition of India.

Main article: Google Pay (payment method)

Google Pay Balance

Google Pay Balance is a P2P payment service that is managed through the separate GPay app. The service is provided by Pathward Bank in association with Google, and managed by Google Payment Corporation. Users can send and receive funds with others through the GPay app on Android or iOS. A digital card is available to be added to Google Pay for wherever Visa cards are accepted online or in-store. The digital card is only available in the United States of America, but the P2P service is available in two additional countries: India and Singapore. The service is scheduled to end on June 4, 2024.[73][74][75]

QR Payments

Not to be confused with QR payments via GPay app.

Wallet allows for QR payments in Brazil. This service supports the Visa, Mastercard, and Elo networks, and is primarily intended for users that do not have NFC functionality in their Android-powered devices.[76][77]

Availability

Supported countries

Global availability of Google Pay & Wallet

As of March 2024, Google Pay & Wallet are available in 77 countries worldwide for both Android & Wear OS:[78]

* = Not available for Fitbit devices

^ = Google Wallet website available[79]

Upcoming

Region locking

Google Wallet prohibits FeliCa-based payment, transit, and loyalty functionality (e.g. Suica, PASMO, WAON, etc.) from being accessed on non-Japanese devices by restricting the initialization of the required third-party Osaifu-Keitai middleware apps on both Android & Wear OS. However, users have discovered ways to enable the functionality on non-Japanese models of Pixels via rooting.[82][83] This behavior is in contrast to other wallets such as Fitbit Wallet and Apple Wallet, which allow users with any regional device model (except Charge 4 & iPhone 7) to add FeliCa-based cards.[84][85]

In turn, users with Japanese devices cannot access North American & European transit cards such as SmarTrip and Pop, though there is a workaround via previewing a route in Google Maps that uses the desired fare payment method, and selecting the banner that offers to add said card to Wallet.

Campus IDs are also locked to devices bought in the United States of America, Canada, and Australia. Google claims support for international devices is "coming soon," though this has been promised for several years as of 2023.[55]

In addition, UWB functionality for car keys is limited to regions that allow the frequency to be broadcast in personal mobile devices by law.[86]

Supported loyalty programs

These programs are conveyed through NFC through Google Wallet's Smart Tap feature. Some of these can be added through the Google Wallet app directly, while others must be added through the respective retailer's app or website. Programs that support One Tap are conveyed at the same time as a payment card stored in Google Wallet. Conversely, Two Tap programs are redeemed in a sequential manner, where a loyalty pass is scanned first, and then payment can be presented.[87]

Country Retailer One Tap/Two Tap
 Australia Dan Murphy's My Dan's[88]
Woolworths' Everyday Rewards[89] Two Tap
 Ireland Nando's Nando Card[90] Two Tap
 Japan d Point[91] Two Tap
Rakuten Point Card[92] Two Tap
 United Kingdom Nando's Nando Card[93] Two Tap
Texaco's Star Rewards[94] Two Tap
 United States Coca-Cola's Vending Pass[95] One Tap
Dave & Buster's Power Card[96] One Tap
Jimmy John's Freaky Fast Rewards[97] One Tap
Redbox's Redbox Perks[98] Two Tap
Walgreens' myWalgreens[99] Two Tap
Yogurtland's Real Rewards[100] One Tap

Supported public transport systems

Due to the open nature of the Android platform, some transit cards are only available through other Android-based mobile wallets or via their own apps (e.g. Octopus for Samsung Wallet or TAP for Android). Transit cards that support direct provisioning can be issued within the Google Wallet app itself, without needing to download a separate third party application. Some public transport systems listed here support skipping verification with Google Pay on Android, wherein the only requirement for transmitting a payment or transit card is to have the screen awake. This is not supported on Google Pay for Wear OS or Fitbit OS, however. Users with watches must open the Wallet app time each time they scan their fare payment method (except FeliCa-based fare methods).[101][102]

All FeliCa-based cards require separate apps to be used and managed by Wallet. Suica and PASMO require the Osaifu-Keitai app and Octopus requires the Octopus app.[83]

Country Area Skip verification Direct provisioning Wear OS support Stored via Fare Payment Method(s)
 Australia  Queensland Payment cards
 Sydney Yes Payment cards
 Victoria Yes Yes No Host Card Emulation Myki
 Brazil  Rio de Janeiro (only MetrôRio) Payment cards
 São Paulo (only SPTrans) Payment cards
 Canada  Ontario (TTC, GO Transit, Brampton Transit, MiWay, Oakville Transit and UP Express. [103]) Yes Yes Yes Host Card Emulation PRESTO
Payment cards- VISA, MasterCard and American Express accepted. UP Express also accepts Interac debit cards.
 Vancouver Payment cards
 Hong Kong Countrywide[104] Yes No No Secure Element via Octopus app Octopus (in public beta)
 Japan Countrywide Yes Yes Yes Secure Element via Osaifu-Keitai app Suica
Yes Yes No Secure Element via Osaifu-Keitai app PASMO
 Mexico  CDMX (only Mexico City Metrobús and Line 9 Chilpancingo metro station) Payment cards
 Singapore Countrywide Yes Payment cards
 Slovakia Countrywide[105] Yes No No Host Card Emulation Ubian
 Spain  Madrid[106][107] Yes No No Host Card Emulation Madrid Regional Public Transport Card (in public beta)
 Taiwan  Kaohsiung Payment cards
Taoyuan Airport MRT Payment cards
 Ukraine  Kyiv Payment cards
 United Kingdom  Edinburgh Yes Payment cards
 London Yes Payment cards
 Manchester Yes Payment cards
 Tyne and Wear Yes Yes No Host Card Emulation Pop
 West Midlands Yes No No Host Card Emulation Swift
 United States  Chicago Yes No No Host Card Emulation Ventra
Yes Payment cards
 Dallas Yes Payment cards
 Las Vegas Yes No No Host Card Emulation Contactless ticket
 Miami Yes Payment cards
 New York City Yes Payment cards
 Portland, Oregon Yes No No Host Card Emulation Hop Fastpass
Yes Payment cards
 San Francisco Yes Yes Yes Host Card Emulation Clipper
 Washington, D.C. Yes Yes Yes Host Card Emulation SmarTrip

Upcoming

Country Area Wear OS support Stored via Fare Payment Method(s)
 Taiwan Countrywide Un­known Secure Element iPASS
 United States Puget Sound (Seattle)[108] Yes Host Card Emulation ORCA

Supported car keys

These car models can be unlocked and started via NFC with select devices running Android 12 or later, most notably the Pixel 6 or later. In addition, certain car models that support operation via UWB (AKA "passive entry") require an UWB compatible device, such as the Pixel Fold or Pro models of Pixel 6 and later devices, for enhanced functionality.[109][110]

Main article: List of digital keys in mobile wallets § Vehicles

Compatible mobile devices

Brand Model UWB availability
Google Pixel 6a No
Pixel 6 No
Pixel 6 Pro Yes
Pixel 7a No
Pixel 7 No
Pixel 7 Pro Yes
Pixel 8 No
Pixel 8 Pro Yes
Pixel Fold Yes
Xiaomi[111] 12 No
12 Pro No
13 No
13 Pro No
Upcoming

These devices have been promised to eventually be made compatible with digital keys by their respective manufacturers, but are not yet as of November 2023.

Brand Model UWB availability
OnePlus[112] Open No

Supported government-issued identifications

These territories permit their residents to save their government-issued identification credentials in Google Wallet. Mobile IDs in Google Wallet support three personal identification standards: ISO 18013-5, ISO 23220-4, and NIST 800-63.[113] Users have a choice whether to present their ID via NFC or QR. Once the credential is read, the ID holder must confirm the personal information they wish to share (full name, age, etc.) The transmission to the reader device will be completed over BLE after the presentation is fully verified. Google has also announced plans for added credentials to be able to be requested by apps to present virtually in the future. Available for devices running Android 8 or later.[114][115]

Country State
 United States  Arizona
 Colorado
 Georgia
 Maryland[116]

Supported campus identifications

Main article: List of campus identifications in mobile wallets

See also

References

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