Google's Wallet is now open


I have a habit of forgetting my wallet, but I never leave home without my mobile phone.

I’ve often wished that I could just scan my phone to pay for purchases, instead of sheepishly driving home to retrieve my wallet. Now it looks like Google is making my wish come true.

The Google Wallet app (which, unfortunately, is only available on the Android Nexus S 4G for now) works by storing virtual versions of your credit cards on your phone.

The app can also hold coupons and will eventually be equipped to hold gift and loyalty cards. To use the app, all you need to do is tap a screen and hold your phone over a sensor to pay for your purchase in any physical store where Google Wallet is accepted.

Until now, Google Wallet only worked with the Citi MasterCard and Google Prepaid Cards that you’d need to fund in advance.

But in mid-September, Google added Visa, American Express and Discover to its roster of credit card providers. That means most Google Wallet users should be able to turn all of their physical cards into virtual ones.

Although the service is new, Google Wallet is already accepted at a surprising range of chain stores, including Toys R Us, OfficeMax, CVS, Sonoco and Jamba Juice.

Google Wallet support is also on its way at a number of department stores, including Bloomingdales and Macy’s.

Any time you store your credit card information, security is always a chief concern, so be sure to contact all of your credit card providers and your wireless carrier if your phone ever goes missing or is stolen.

Google Wallet does require a PIN to log in and view your account details, but if someone is able to crack the code, he could do a lot of damage to your credit if you aren’t careful.

Nonetheless, credit card companies won’t hold you liable for unauthorized purchases, so long as you report them in a timely manner.

So is Google Wallet the future of in-store payment?

It could be: The World Payments Report 2011 claims that mobile payments will overtake plastic card payments in the space of a decade.

Here’s hoping Google Wallet releases an iPhone app well before then, though.

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