Google Turns Mobile Phone Into A Wallet

Google Wallet will initially work with Google's Nexus S 4G smartphone from Sprint.

Google unveiled a free mobile application on Thursday that turns a smartphone into an electronic wallet.

The Internet giant, at a press conference at its New York headquarters with financial partners Citibank and MasterCard and telecom ally Sprint, said "Google Wallet" is currently being field tested and will be available this summer.

Google Wallet will initially work with Google's Nexus S 4G smartphone from Sprint and will eventually be expanded to more Android phones.

Google Wallet uses a near field communication (NFC) chip embedded in a phone to allow a user to "tap-and-pay" for purchases at a checkout register equipped with the PayPass system from CitiMasterCard.

Customers can also use a Google Prepaid card to pay for purchases, topping up the Google card with any payment card, and take advantage of Google Offers, the Mountain View, California-based company's online discount coupon program.

Google said Google Wallet will be accepted at more than 124,000 merchants nationally at launch and more than 311,000 around the world.

NFC technology is being tested or used in a number of countries already, notably France, but Google Wallet will be the first to bring it to the United States on a potentially large scale.

In addition to allowing for mobile payments, Google Wallet allows consumers to pay using gift cards and to redeem promotions such as discounts or coupons.

Google said the field tests in New York and San Francisco involve a number of retailers including CVS pharmacy, fast food outlet Jack in the Box, sporting goods store Sports Authority and Sunoco gasoline stations.

Some Coca-Cola vending machines and taxis are also PayPass-enabled.

Copyright by Agence France-Presse, 2011

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