Google let its Wallet payment platform languish for years, but with the emergence of fierce competition, it looks like the search giant’s finally adopting a more proactive approach. Earlier this week, the company unveiled a partnership with branding company ChowNow, and today it’s adding Dunkin’ Donuts, Seamless, and Shopify to the mix.
How will the integration work? Simple: when it comes time to pay for your morning pastries, hand-delivered burrito, or Italian knitwear, you’ll have the option of tapping into your Wallet balance or into any other method — debit cards, credit cards, bank accounts, and the like — stored on Google’s servers.
The addition of a few brands to the Wallet family may sound trivial, but it’s a significant step forward for a payment platform that had only 60 partners before today. By comparison, Apple Pay, which just added GameStop, T-Mobile, Acme, and others, encompasses 68 retailers. Both, however, are racing for distant second: PayPal dwarfs all other digital money transfer ecosystems with 78 percent of the market.
Google Wallet got off to a rough start four years ago when Verizon blocked subscribers from downloading the app, citing “security concerns.” Analysts speculated that its true motivation was to promote ISIS, a branded payments platform created in partnership with AT&T and T-Mobile that was later and wisely renamed, as Softcard. Ironically, Google recently purchased the competitor for an undisclosed sum.
Despite news of Android Pay, a revamped payment layer expected to debut at Google I/O in May, Google Wallet will live on as a separate service. A rebranding isn’t out of the question, though; rumored components of Android Pay will make Google Wallet APIs redundant. And that’s to say nothing of “Plaso,” a reported contextually-aware payment mechanism segmented from both.
While many aspects of Google’s mobile payment strategy remain shrouded in mystery, one thing’s for certain: the company’s no longer resting on what laurels it had. Expect big things at Google’s upcoming developer conference.