Google Wallet Ramps Up Discounts, Features

Google Wallet Ramps Up Discounts, Features

Google Wallet now allows users to receive coupons and rewards points from merchants, expanding its offerings as the service strives to compete against rivals in the mobile payment market.

Google today updated its NFC-based e-wallet, allowing merchants to automatically and wirelessly push discounts and rewards points to customers’ phones. To mark the launch of this “SingleTap” service, a “Featured Offers” section now appears under the Offers tab in the Google Wallet app.

“Today, these [featured offers] include 15 percent off at American Eagle Outfitters, 10 percent off at The Container Store, 15 percent off at Macy’s and an all-fruit smoothie for $2 at Jamba Juice,” Google said.

The company indicated it may soon sign similar discount deals with Chevron, Pinkberry, Subway and more.

Google Wallet also announced its customers will be able to load a prepaid card with money for NFC-based purchases if they do not have Citibank MasterCards.

So far, only Sprint Nexus S owners can take advantage of Google Wallet’s SingleTap wireless payment service. But the search giant is encouraging handset makers to equip more smartphones with NFC chips as it readies its e-wallet for competition against rival mobile payment systems.

The company is also set to partner with Visa’s PayWave technology to diversify its credit card base.

Google Wallet needs a boost, as it faces slow adoptionbecause of its limited distribution on one phone. Few merchants also support NFC-based payment systems, creating obstacles in wider adoption of the service.

For now, the ruling mobile payment services are those like Square, whose credit card reader plugs into mobile phone jacks and digitizes traditional plastic payments.

PayPal too plans a similar solution for release later this year, saying its system will be superior to Google’s NFC-based service since it won’t require merchants or customers to drastically change their habits.

But Google Wallet may be able to challenge its rivals if Isis, an NFC mobile payment venture including major carriers, credit card companies and handset manufacturers, wins widespread support. Isis recently joined the NFC Forum, too, suggesting its willingness to standardize the industry and make it easier for consumers to navigate.

Limited to only one phone so far, Google Wallet may not attract customers with just its SingleTap discount service, but the search giant appears determined to advance its technology for when NFC finally becomes widespread.

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