Google Wallet divides critics

by Jon Christian

The New York Times’ Tara Bernard reports on an app by Google which some critics are experts are panning and others are hailing as revolutionary.

Google Wallet is an an Android app – soon to be spread to other platforms – which lets consumers pay for things by waving their phone at a terminal. It works with a low-power radio transmittor which is incorporated into many phones. There is not a consensus in the technology community whether the app provides enough security in the case of a stolen phone.

Meanwhile, PayPal has already sued Google for infringement on trade secrets. Maybe it’s best to keep some cash on hand for now.

Google emphasized that the wallet would be open to all businesses and invited other banks, credit card issuers, payment networks, mobile carriers and merchants to work with it.

“I expect that other payment networks and other banks will join this effort, though in some cases it will be a hedge strategy they employ along with their own mobile payment initiatives,” said Charles S. Golvin, an analyst with Forrester Research. “Since these payments utilize the same underlying business model as cards today, there is not significant disruption risk for these players.”

Google is also working with First Data, which processes payments and will ensure the security of the transaction.

Unlike Bitcoin, Google Wallet uses plain old currency.

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