|Initial release||May 26, 2011(US only)|
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. 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."
On May 15, 2013, Google announced the integration of Google Wallet and Gmail, allowing users to send money through Gmail attachments. Like the main service, Google Wallet's Gmail integration is also currently only available in the US, to those 18 or older.
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 USA, 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.
Google Wallet is currently available on the following devices:
- 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 and Pay does not)
- HTC Droid Incredible 4G LTE on Verizon
- 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 Droid RAZR MAXX HD on Google Play
- Motorola Moto X
- Samsung Galaxy S5
- Samsung Galaxy Note II on AT&T, Sprint, US Cellular and Verizon
- Samsung Galaxy S4 on Sprint, US Cellular, and Google Play
- Samsung Nexus S 4G on Sprint
- Samsung Galaxy Nexus on Sprint
- Samsung Galaxy Nexus GSM/HSPA+
- 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 and Pay does not)
- Samsung Galaxy Axiom on US Cellular
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. 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.
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. 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. Supported phones include the (Sprint, Verizon and Play Store) Galaxy Nexus, LG Viper 4G LTE, LG Optimus Elite. The Sprint Galaxy S III and Nexus 7 also offer Google Wallet. Unofficially, it runs on all US variants of the Galaxy S III.
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. In doing so, Google follows the lead of PayPal and various payment startups, including Wallaby Financial, Protean Payment, and iCache International.
On August 1, 2012, Google Wallet expanded support to all major credit and debit cards including Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover. American Express later said that they never agreed to participate in the Google Wallet program.
Google Wallet launch partners include Citi as the issuing bank, MasterCard as the initial payment network, and Sprint as the first mobile carrier. 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.
In addition, Google Wallet works at other participating MasterCard PayPass merchants including BP, CVS Pharmacy, 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.
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 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.
- The Android operating system, within the core libraries require the screen of the device must be on to enable NFC chipset access 
- 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.
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.
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.’”
Google has run a competitor to PayPal, Google Checkout, since 2006, which was replaced with Google Wallet on launch.
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