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Google Wallet

Google Wallet
Developer(s) Google
Initial release May 26, 2011 (2011-05-26) (US only)
Operating system Android, iOS (iPhone only, Tap To Pay does not work)

Google Wallet is a mobile payment system developed by Google that allows its users to store debit cards, credit cards, loyalty cards, and gift cards among other things, as well as redeeming sales promotions on their mobile phone.[citation needed][1] Google Wallet can use near field communication (NFC) to "make secure payments fast and convenient by simply tapping the phone on any PayPass-enabled terminal at checkout."

Google demonstrated the app at a press conference on May 26, 2011.[2] The app was released in the United States only on September 19, 2011.[3]

The service works with the 300,000 plus MasterCard PayPass merchant locations,[4] with Visa licensing their Visa payWave system to Google for use in Wallet as of September 20, 2011.[5]

On May 15, 2013, Google announced the integration of Google Wallet and Gmail, allowing users to send money through Gmail attachments.[6] Like the main service, Google Wallet's Gmail integration is also currently only available in the US, to those 18 or older.[7]

On February 23, 2015, Google announced that it would acquire the intellectual property of the carrier-backed competitor Softcard and integrate it into Google Wallet, and that AT&T Mobility, T-Mobile US, and Verizon Wireless would bundle the Google Wallet app on their compatible devices later in the year. The effective merger aims to build a stronger competitor to the recently introduced Apple Pay mobile payment service.[8][9] The new service will be known as Android Pay.

Device availability

Google Wallet is currently available on the following devices:


  • Apple
    • iPhone (Sending money only, Tap to pay does not work)
  • HTC
    • HTC One SV (running Android 4.1 or newer) on Boost Mobile
    • HTC One on Sprint
    • HTC One (M8)
    • HTC EVO 4G LTE on Sprint (Wallet works, Tap to Pay does not)[10]
    • HTC Droid Incredible 4G LTE on Verizon
  • LG
    • LG Viper 4G LTE on Sprint and Zact Mobile
    • LG Optimus Elite on Sprint, Virgin Mobile and Zact Mobile
    • LG Nexus 4 GSM/HSPA+ on Google Play
    • LG Nexus 5 on Google Play
  • Motorola
    • Motorola Droid RAZR MAXX HD on Google Play
    • Motorola Moto X
  • Samsung
    • Samsung Galaxy Axiom on US Cellular
    • Samsung Galaxy Nexus on Sprint
    • Samsung Galaxy Nexus GSM/HSPA+
    • Samsung Galaxy Note II on AT&T, Sprint, US Cellular and Verizon
    • Samsung Galaxy Note 3 on Sprint, T-Mobile
    • Samsung Galaxy Note 4 on Sprint, T-Mobile
    • Samsung Galaxy Victory 4G LTE on Sprint and Virgin Mobile
    • Samsung Galaxy S III on Sprint, MetroPCS, US Cellular, Virgin Mobile and Boost Mobile (Wallet works, Tap to Pay does not)[10]
    • Samsung Galaxy S4 on Sprint, US Cellular, and Google Play Edition
    • Samsung Galaxy S5
    • Samsung Nexus S 4G on Sprint


International Devices At this time, Google Wallet does not support devices purchased outside the United States. The eligible device list above only applies to devices purchased from the listed carriers next to them. For example, an unlocked Samsung Galaxy SIII purchased internationally will not work with Google Wallet.

Google plans to produce NFC stickers associated with one credit card each, to be affixed to non-NFC-capable phones.[11] Two methods for providing money to the service are advertised, Citi Mastercards and Google Prepaid Card, which can be loaded using any major credit card. During Google Wallet's unveiling at NYC headquarters, Google also touted the openness of their new system. Google said it will partner with all vendors of non-Android phones, including Apple, BlackBerry, and Microsoft.[12]

On December 6, Verizon announced it is not blocking Google Wallet on its Galaxy Nexus phones, despite rumors: "Google Wallet does not simply access the operating system and basic hardware of our phones like thousands of other applications. Instead, to work as designed by Google, Google Wallet must be integrated into a new, secure and proprietary hardware element in our phones." said a Verizon rep.[13] This was believed true because Verizon plans to roll out its own payment system, ISIS, in partnership with AT&T and T-Mobile in 2012.[14] Supported phones include the (Sprint, Verizon and Play Store) Galaxy Nexus, LG Viper 4G LTE, LG Optimus Elite.[15] The Sprint Galaxy S III and Nexus 7 also offer Google Wallet.[16] Unofficially, it runs on all US variants of the Galaxy S III.[17]

In order to expand Google Wallet's coverage across major mobile carrier networks and enable Wallet acceptance at more merchant locations, Google plans to introduce a physical card that will work in conjunction with Google Wallet.[18] In doing so, Google follows the lead of PayPal and various payment startups, including Wallaby Financial, Protean Payment, and iCache International.[19][20]

  1. ^ Due to the 2013 variant lacking a Secure Element in its NFC hardware [1], the application which enables NFC payments is not ordinarily available, as of November 2013 must be sideloaded [2], and must be updated to KitKat.


On August 1, 2012, Google Wallet expanded support to all major credit and debit cards including Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover.[21] American Express later said that they never agreed to participate in the Google Wallet program.[22]

File:Google Wallet NFC.jpg
A Google Wallet station at a Peet's Coffee

Google Wallet launch partners include Citi as the issuing bank, MasterCard as the initial payment network, and Sprint as the first mobile carrier.[23] Merchants who accept Google Wallet include: American Eagle Outfitters, Bloomingdales, Foot Locker, Jamba Juice, Macy's, RadioShack, Subway, The Container Store, Toys "R" Us, and Walgreens.[24]

In addition, Google Wallet works at other participating MasterCard PayPass merchants including BP, Dairy Queen, McDonald's, Office Max, Petco, Sports Authority, Sunoco, The Home Depot, Tim Hortons and other retailers.

NJ Transit also participates with Paypass and Google Wallet.

NYC Taxi & Limousine Commission has introduced Google Wallet support in New York City taxicabs. [25]

Business model

Google doesn't currently charge users or merchants for access to Wallet, and plans to make money by offering sponsored ads to their users. The new app Google Shopper[26] will push two types of offers to a user's phone:

  • Today's offers, which allows the user to see a single offer redeemable for discounted goods or services in their area.
  • Nearby offers, which allows the user to see a list of offers in the 'Eat' and 'Play' categories that nearby businesses have submitted through Google Places.

The Google Wallet was designed as an open platform. Payment networks, carriers, and banks have been invited to join and participate in the system.[27]


While a stolen debit card can be used in some circumstance without a personal identification number (PIN) or signature, the Google Wallet has security including:[28][29][30][31]

  • The Android operating system, within the core libraries require the screen of the device must be on to enable NFC chipset access [32]
  • Sensitive financial credential data is stored in the NFC chipset's protected memory known as the Secure Element.
  • Google Wallet requires the input of the correct PIN to open the application.

The NFC's Secure Element is protected access memory. Access to the Secure Element requires that an application has a valid key, typically granted from the chipset manufacturer and subject to a non-disclosure agreement. As a precaution to prevent brute force attacks, Secure Element access becomes permanently disabled after a predetermined number of invalid attempts to access it. Communication between the Android Operating System and the Secure Element is done via the Application Protocol Data Unit, with code execution done in a protected and isolated environment. Code written to the secure element is of Java Card form.

The latest security measurement implemented (July 2012) is based upon Google financially completing the transaction and subsequently billing the respective card issuer.

A known vulnerability is based upon the ability to intercept the PIN required to access Google Wallet. Furthermore Joshua Rubin proved that the PIN can be breached also by enabling root privileges. The only currently known way to protect from this attack is by moving the PIN verification process onto the SE component. If such an action were to be implemented, the problem resulting is of ownership. Google's view is that if the PIN is stored in the SE component the banks will take full responsibility over the PIN.[33]


An analysis by security company NowSecure revealed that some card information stored by Google Wallet is still accessible outside of the application. It is suggested that hackers could create a way to intercept data by eavesdropping on Google Analytics, which monitors apps used on the Android OS. A previous analysis by the same firm revealed a number of other exploits that have since been fixed.[34]

PayPal Lawsuit

Shortly after launch, PayPal filed a lawsuit against Google and two former employees of PayPal – Osama Bedier and Stephanie Tilenius. The complaint alleges “misappropriation of trade secrets” and “breach of fiduciary duty.” The lawsuit reveals that Google was negotiating with PayPal for two years to power payments on mobile devices. But just as the deal was about to be signed, Google backed off and instead hired the PayPal executive negotiating the deal, Bedier. The lawsuit notes that Bedier knew all of PayPal’s future plans for mobile payments, as well as an internal detailed analysis of Google’s weaknesses in the area. Not only that, it accuses him of storing “confidential information in locations such as his non-PayPal computers, non-PayPal e-mail account, and an account on the remote computing service called ‘Dropbox.’”[35]

Google has run a competitor to PayPal, Google Checkout, since 2006, which was replaced with Google Wallet on launch.


Privacy concerns include the storing of data regarding payment information, transaction details, payment attempts and other information stored by Google indefinitely. The Privacy Policy for Google Wallet indicates that much of the data is stored but may not be shared outside Google except under certain circumstances. The Privacy Policy also indicates that transaction details are not "currently" stored by Google, leaving speculation that users' transaction details may be stored at some point.[36] The storage of such personal information about users' transactions is of significant financial value to a company that earns much of its revenue from data, but may be controversial to users aware of the policies.[37]

See also


  1. ^ "Coming soon: make your phone your wallet". Official Google Blog. May 26, 2011. Retrieved May 26, 2011. 
  2. ^ Warren, Christina (May 26, 2011). "Google Reveals Mobile Payment System: Google Wallet". Mashable. Retrieved May 26, 2011. 
  3. ^ "This Day in Tech: Google Wallet launches". September 19, 2011. Retrieved September 19, 2011. 
  4. ^ Hamburger, Ellis (May 26, 2011). "Google Introduces Google Wallet, Works At Over 300,000 MasterCard PayPass Merchant Locations". Silicon Alley Insider. Retrieved May 26, 2011. 
  5. ^ Leavitt, Lydia (September 20, 2011). "Polyamorous Google Wallet adds Visa to its arsenal". Retrieved September 20, 2011. 
  6. ^ "Attach Real Money in Gmail with Google Wallet". W3Reports. Retrieved May 15, 2013. 
  7. ^ "Send money through Gmail with Google Wallet". 
  8. ^ "Google Wallet will soon come pre-installed on Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile Android phones". The Verge. Retrieved 23 February 2015. 
  9. ^ "Google Wallet, Softcard partner to take on Apple Pay". CNET. Retrieved 23 February 2015. 
  10. ^ a b "Eligible devices for use with Google Wallet". Google. Retrieved 10 December 2014. 
  11. ^ Vildosola, Alberto (May 26, 2011). "Google plans to make special Google Wallet stickers for phones without NFC". Androidandme. Retrieved May 26, 2011. 
  12. ^ Castro, Radford (May 26, 2011). "Google Wallet to work with non-Android phones". LazyTechGuys. Retrieved May 26, 2011. 
  13. ^ "Statement From Verizon On Google Wallet". December 6, 2011. Retrieved December 9, 2012. 
  14. ^ Smith, Jake (Dec 5, 2011). "Verizon is blocking Google Wallet on Galaxy Nexus". 9to5Google. Retrieved Dec 6, 2011. 
  15. ^ "Google Wallet Google+ post". Google. April 25, 2012. Retrieved April 25, 2012. 
  16. ^ "Sprint Galaxy S III arrives with Google Wallet on June 21 post". Engadget. June 4, 2012. Retrieved June 4, 2012. 
  17. ^ "Google wallet fix for SGS3 US variants Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, US Cellular, etc.". XDA Developer. July 30, 2012. Retrieved July 30, 2012. 
  18. ^ "Google Has a Card up its Sleeve". Protean Payment. November 5, 2012. Retrieved November 5, 2012. 
  19. ^ "PayPal Partners With Discover To Bring In-Store Payments Platform To 7M Merchants In 2013". TechCrunch. August 22, 2012. Retrieved November 5, 2012. 
  20. ^ "Putting Money into the Mobile Wallet". admonsters. October 31, 2012. Retrieved November 5, 2012. 
  21. ^ Cain, Claire (August 1, 2012). "Google Wallet Now Works With Multiple Credit Cards". Retrieved December 9, 2012. 
  22. ^ Mlot, Stephanie (August 3, 2012). "American Express Denies Signing on for Google Wallet Expansion". Retrieved December 9, 2012. 
  23. ^ "Google Wallet: Security". Google. Retrieved June 22, 2011. 
  24. ^ "Google Wallet: Where it works". Google. Retrieved June 22, 2011. 
  25. ^ "With the Mobile Wallet, A Way to Change How You Pay". WNYC News. Retrieved 11 May 2015. 
  26. ^ "Google Shopper". Retrieved December 9, 2012. 
  27. ^ "Google Unveils Wallet And Offers: An Open Platform For Mobile Payments". TechCrunch. May 26, 2011. Retrieved December 9, 2012. 
  28. ^ Le, Tony (June 1, 2011). "Google Wallet FAQ". GFan. Retrieved June 4, 2011. 
  29. ^ "Engadget Primed: What is NFC, and why do we care?". Engadget. Retrieved June 22, 2011. 
  30. ^ "Google Wallet: Security". Google. Retrieved June 22, 2011. 
  31. ^ "MasterCard PayPass". MasterCard. Retrieved June 22, 2011. 
  32. ^ "NFC Basics". Android Developers. Retrieved November 29, 2013. 
  33. ^ "Google Wallet overview – Threats and security measures - Cyber Security". October 9, 2012. Retrieved November 29, 2013. 
  34. ^ Kevin Fogarty, Even after rewrites, Google Wallet retains gaping security holes, mainly due to Android, itworld, February 10, 2012.
  35. ^ Schonfeld, Erick (May 26, 2011). "PayPal Lawsuit Against Google Reveals Recruiting Saga And A Deal Gone Sour". TechCrunch. Retrieved May 27, 2011. 
  36. ^ "Google Wallet: Privacy". Google. Retrieved September 20, 2011. 
  37. ^ Harley Geiger, NFC Phones Raise Opportunities, Privacy and Security Issues, Center for Democracy and Technology, April 11, 2011.

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