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Google unveils mobile wallet service

Nancy Gohring, IDG News Service | May 27, 2011
Google on Thursday unveiled a mobile wallet platform and field tests in New York and San Francisco that will let people with special phones pay for goods.

Google Offers will become available to people in San Francisco, New York and Portland this summer.

Google hopes to expand the wallet to include many other items including driver’s licenses, hotel keys and concert tickets.

Later this year, Google also plans to add a feature that will let retailers pass receipts to users via the Wallet technology.

Companies have been trying to kick-start mobile payments for around a decade, and Google acknowledged that despite its announcement, there are still barriers. “Today we’re announcing the first steps to making this vision a reality. It will take a while to come to fruition,” said Tilenius.

Security is one issue that may have slowed down the progress of mobile wallets. The Nexus S uses a smart-chip secure element from NXP, the same kind of chip used in electronic passports and in contactless and contact-based credit cards, said Rob Von Baron, a security engineer at Google. The cards have tamper sensors so if someone tries to physically access a card it self-destructs, he said. It also has protection against laser attacks. All payment card credentials are encrypted and stored on the chip, which is separate from the Android device memory and accessible only by authorized programs.

Google has added other software security elements. Users can first set a PIN to unlock the phone. They’re then asked for a PIN to open the wallet. They can also set a preference so that the card is inactive unless the wallet app is open.

“Security is very important to us,” Bedier said.

Distributing capable phones is another challenge. On stage during the event, Fared Adib, Sprint’s vice president of product development, said it would work with “the Samsungs, HTCs and Motorolas” of the world to support Google’s program. But there was no mention during the prepared remarks if the system would support operating systems other than Android.

 

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