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Google Wallet wants more cards

By Janna Herron · Bankrate.com
Wednesday, August 29, 2012
Posted: 3 pm ET

This month when Google said its mobile wallet can upload all credit cards -- which isn't true, but more on that later -- I thought, "Great, but what about those other cards in my wallet?"

As it stands now, I'd still need something to carry my driver's license, health insurance card and New York City subway card even if I had a Google Wallet. The good folks at Google say they're working hard to fix that.

"The vision behind Wallet is we want it to be an electronic wallet that holds all your payment cards, loyalty cards, gift cards, but also other types of digital objects, things you have in your physical wallet today," said Robert Dua, head of product management for Google Wallet, in a Q&A posted on YouTube Tuesday night.

Those other items include identification and transit passes, Dua said. I'll venture to guess health insurance cards are also included, even though Dua didn't mention them specifically. He went on to include boarding passes as well.

Unfortunately, Dua didn't give a time frame for when that will happen. But it seems like certain items will be easier to include than others.

For example, you can already pull up a boarding pass on your iPhone, so the leap to Google Wallet seems manageable. An insurance card appears just as simple to digitize. Transit cards might be harder because it would require new Google Wallet readers on every bus or train. And government-issued IDs, such as driver's licenses and passports, could be the last to be virtualized due to security concerns. The government also tends to be slow to adopt new technologies.

Honestly, these other, so far undigitized items could be one factor determining whether the mobile wallet takes or not. The other factor is participation -- of consumers, smartphone companies, retailers and card companies. Right now, Google Wallet is only available on six phones from Sprint and Virgin Mobile and the new Nexus 7 tablet, which doesn't seem any easier to carry than a Prada wallet.

Dua said 25 national retailers offer the "full Google Wallet user experience" and more than 200,000 retailer locations are wired to accept Google Wallet tap payments. (Of course, there are more than 3.6 million retail locations in the U.S., per the National Retail Federation. So it's a safe bet you'll need to carry your actual wallet along with your Google Wallet these days.)

Last, Dua said Google Wallet supports all debit and credit cards.

"You can link any Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover branded card to your wallet," he said in the session.

Oops. Someone didn't send Dua the memo about American Express. A day after Google Wallet announced it takes all cards, American Express told Dara Kerr at CNet.com that it has yet to sign on and remains in discussions with Google.

An American Express spokeswoman confirmed today that there haven't been any changes to its relationship with Google Wallet since then. Someone should tell Dua.

What would convince you to carry Google Wallet, or its rival Isis?

Follow me on Twitter: @JannaHerron

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4 Comments
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August 31, 2012 at 3:49 am

Those other items include identification and transit passes, Dua said. I'll venture to guess health insurance cards are also included, even though Dua didn't mention them specifically.employment background screening