Google Wallet launched

27 05 2011

Google, Citi, MasterCard, First Data and Sprint team up to make your phone your wallet

Google Wallet will enable consumers to tap, pay and save with their phones

For the past ten years we have been hearing about plans for making payments via your mobile phone. Testing has occurred for mobile commence via vending machines mainly in Asia, but no widespread initiative has as yet been kicked-off. The dream of not going shopping with credit cards, cash, cheques and id is upon us. The notion that you can go into a shop, use your smartphone to check out product information and then buy that same product via your mobile phone, all in one easy step, is now becoming a reality.

At an event today, Google, Citi, MasterCard, First Data and Sprint announced and demonstrated Google Wallet, an app that will make your phone your wallet so you can tap, pay and save money and time while you shop. For businesses, Google Wallet is an opportunity to strengthen customer relationships by offering a faster, easier shopping experience with relevant deals, promotions and loyalty rewards.

“Today, we’ve joined with leaders in the industry to build the next generation of mobile commerce,” said Stephanie Tilenius, vice president, commerce and payments, Google. “With Citi, MasterCard, First Data and Sprint we’re building an open commerce ecosystem that for the first time will make it possible for you to pay with an NFC wallet and redeem consumer promotions all in one tap, while shopping offline.”

Google Wallet is currently in a field test and will be available to consumers this summer. At the event, Google, Citi, MasterCard, First Data and Sprint introduced Google Wallet and invited additional issuing banks, payment networks, mobile carriers, handset manufacturers, point of sale systems companies and merchants to join the initiative.
Next Step in Mobile Payments

At commercial launch, Google Wallet will support payments with two payment solutions: a PayPass eligible Citi MasterCard and a virtual Google Prepaid card. Most people who already have a PayPass eligible Citi MasterCard can simply add it to Google Wallet over the air, using First Data’s trusted service manager service. Or, they can fund the Google Prepaid card with any payment card.

Google Wallet uses near field communication (NFC) to make secure payments fast and convenient by simply tapping the phone on any PayPass-enabled terminal at checkout.

Google Wallet is engineered to enable secure payments and goes beyond what’s possible with traditional wallets and cards. It will require an app-specific PIN and in the first release, all payment card credentials will be encrypted and stored on a chip, called the secure element, that is separate from the Android device memory and is only accessible by authorized programs.

“Citi’s role as the lead bank in Google Wallet is the latest demonstration of how we are committed to becoming the world’s digital bank, providing to customers the tools they need to manage their everyday finances with convenience and value,” said Paul Galant, CEO, Citi Global Enterprise Payments. “Today’s announcement and our active collaboration with Google will be looked at as the inflection point for how mobile payments are evolving from concept to mass utilization.”
Accepted in Stores Nationwide

Google Wallet is built to work with the fast growing MasterCard PayPass network—a merchant point of sale service that enables consumers to tap to pay. As a result, Google Wallet will immediately be accepted at more than 124,000 PayPass-enabled merchants nationally and more than 311,000 globally.

“MasterCard has pioneered mobile payments with our PayPass technology and we’re proud that it is at the heart of Google Wallet,” said Ed McLaughlin, chief emerging payments officer, MasterCard. “We’re excited to partner with these industry leaders today and committed to continuing to play a leadership role in the development of mobile payment technologies.”

Google is also working with point of sale systems companies and top retail brands to create a new SingleTap shopping experience. Consumers will be able to pay for an item using a credit card or gift card, redeem promotions and earn loyalty points—all with a single tap of their Google Wallet. Google is working with VeriFone, Hypercom, Ingenico, VIVOTech and others to develop these next generation point of sale systems. Retailers participating in the new SingleTap experience include: American Eagle Outfitters, Bloomingdale’s, Champs Sports, The Container Store, Duane Reade, Einstein Bros. Bagels, Foot Locker, Guess, Jamba Juice, Macy’s, Noah’s Bagels, Peet’s Coffee & Tea, RadioShack, Subway, Toys“R”Us and Walgreens.

“Google Wallet allows us to harness the power of mobile technology to enhance our in-store shopping experience and helps bridge the gap between our online and in-store consumer interactions,” said Martine Reardon, executive vice-president of marketing and advertising, Macy’s. “Macy’s is always looking for cutting-edge technology that will deliver value and engage our customers in personal ways. Google Wallet delivers this unique interaction across channels.”

The first Google Wallet field tests are focused in New York and San Francisco, where many retailers, Coca-Cola vending machines and even taxis are PayPass-enabled, including major outlets such as CVS, Jack in the Box, Sports Authority and Sunoco. First Data, a global leader in electronic commerce and payment processing, is actively recruiting thousands of new merchants in these areas and will soon expand those efforts to deploy more contactless merchant terminals across the country.

“The payments industry has known for some time that it was not a question of if, but when true mobile commerce would become a reality. We believe today is the day that mobile meets payments,” said Ed Labry, president, North America, First Data. “We’re proud to play a central role in Google Wallet and to bring innovative technology such as Trusted Service Management and contactless acceptance to our clients.”
Saving Made Simple

Google has also been testing a variety of consumer deals that can range from a 20-percent discount on a new pair of boots discovered on a Google search advertisement; to a $5 off check-in offer received upon entering a store; to a “deal of the day” offering a $20 lunch for $10 at a local restaurant. Whenever you buy or save an offer, you will be able to automatically sync it to Google Wallet.

At most stores you will be able to use Google Wallet to show your offer at the register, where the cashier will either scan it or manually type it in. At participating Google SingleTap merchants, you will be able to pay and redeem an offer with one tap of your mobile device.

Because Google Wallet is a mobile app, it will eventually be able to do more than a regular wallet ever could—but without the bulk. Google Wallet will start with offers, loyalty and gift cards but some day items like receipts, boarding passes and tickets will all be seamlessly synced to your Google Wallet.
Open Commerce Ecosystem = Consumer Choice and Innovation

Google Wallet will work best if it’s an open commerce ecosystem so you will be able to carry all the credit cards, offers, loyalty and gift cards you choose—and eventually much more. To this end, Google Wallet will make it possible to integrate numerous types of partners, and Google, Citi, MasterCard, First Data and Sprint invite the banking community, mobile carriers, handset manufacturers, merchants and others to work with Google Wallet.

“We are delighted to be the first carrier to sign on as a partner with Google to deliver Google Wallet,” said Fared Adib, senior vice president of product development, Sprint. “As a leading innovator and proponent of “open,” we are proud that Nexus S 4G is the first smartphone with Google Wallet and we look forward to deploying Google Wallet on many of our upcoming Android phones.”

The first release of Google Wallet is expected to be released on the Nexus S 4G on the Sprint network. Additional devices with NFC capabilities will follow.

So yet another example of how technology is helping to improve your life! At least until you lose your phone! Will you trust this technology or stick to your cards and cash?

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New Junior Fiction – Venice Escape – A Travel Fantasy Adventure Celebrating Italian Luminaries in the Golden Age of Exploration

13 05 2011

Shameless self promotion but had to blog about my wonderful new book

June 21, 2011 has been selected as the launch date for a new junior fiction novel, Venice Escape – Maria’s Golden Gondola Adventures. This will be available on http://www.Amazon.com/co.uk and also at www.lulu.com

Blending the dual themes of music and Italian luminaries, this blog author has created a whirlwind time travel adventure of a young girl eager to learn about the world outside her cloistered Venetian surroundings. This junior travel fantasy paints geography, history, music and adventure on the canvas of a light-hearted voyage of self-discovery for a young heroine.

The concept of a united Italian nation is fairly recent, yet the accomplishments of those born within its current borders, such as in music and exploration, have been plentiful and rich down through the ages. Venice Escape launches on the 21st June 2011 to pay homage to two events: 2011 is the 150th unification anniversary of Italy and 21st June is the annual “Fete de la Musique”; an event started in France that is now worldwide.

The plot:

“Venice Escape is the story of a lonely young Italian girl, Maria Mozzarella, who lives in a Venice convent school. Having been chased by a rat through a secret door she meets a Lion, Marco, and his magical golden gondola. He tells her about his many famous Italian explorer friends and how he is able to travel to the countries they discovered and meet them.

Maria’s curiosity is high and she joins Marco on a high-speed voyage through time and around the world to meet remarkable people, and admire their architecture, cuisine and music. With her passion for music and musical instruments ignited, she wishes to remain longer in each place, but the time with Marco is limited. Meanwhile after each journey the riddle of her mysterious benefactor grows.”

Venice Escape contains an appendix where you can learn more about the Italian explorers and Vivaldi. There is also a companion multi-media website with music clips for each instrument and musical style.

The author added,

“My free online resource has been developed to offer readers of Venice Escape an improved reading experience, and at the same time provide teachers with the opportunity to use this material to trigger cross-curricular discussions in their classes. My hope is that the book will be used in schools to assist discussion on music genres/instruments, history and geography. Alternatively, young readers can simply enjoy linking to the music sounds and reflect back on how Maria would have enjoyed hearing this music for the first time.”

Another attribute to this book and online companion, is the addition of a piece of guitar and string music called Venice Escape which has been commissioned by the author. Venice Escape, the music, and has been written to capture the feeling of travelling from Venetian canals to the far-flung countries visited. Find it on http://www.SandraArthurBook.com

International Teacher, Denise Gilby added, “I think children will definitely enjoy it by reading it in sections and having the practical side of then listening to the music and following the travels around the world.”

Special Education Needs (SEN) Teacher, Lisa Carey added, “It is often hard to capture the attention of pupils during history class (as it is so far removed from daily experiences). The online resource at ‘Sandra Arthur Books’, for Venice Escape, will be really useful in my SEN work. I loved the storyline.”

Venice Escape – Maria’s Golden Gondola Adventures is aimed at 9 to 12 year olds.

This story is beautifully heart-warming; a surprising mix of adventure, mystery, and historical and musical education. Even adults who may read the story to their children will find they have learned something about the places, explorers or music.