Google, who are inexorably trying to change the world in every way possible, have announced ‘the next big thing’ in the way we pay for things. Google Wallet is poised to potentially replace paper money, cheques and cards – provided of course you own an Android phone that is.
The reality however may be somewhat different to Google’s lofty ambitions. The first hurdle is the fact that it’s an Android app. Android is the most popular operating system for new smart phones and tablets, and that should be enough – however, Apple and Blackberry still hold a massive market share, and their devices use proprietary operating systems. This means that Google Wallet will be limited to a small portion of the market – something cards and cash aren’t encumbered with.
Google do intend to add support for other phones, and indeed if they wish for this to even have a hope of taking off, they must embrace this – as well as face the inevitable battle with Blackberry and Apple to get the app onto their phones unhindered.
The next hurdle is the simple fact that people don’t tend to trust changes to the way they spend. It may take a long time before consumers are willing to pay for things with their mobile phone – the obvious questions will be raised about security, “What if someone steals my phone?” springs to mind as a question people are likely to ask… lots. It took a long time for people to adopt cards, it took a long time for people to trust the Internet enough to buy things off it, and it’s highly likely that it will take a long time for Google Wallet to take off too – by which time there could be competing systems which will fare better having not had to run the gauntlet of early adoption.
Yet further hurdles come in the form of irate online payment sites such as PayPal – who have been quick to issue a lawsuit over trade secrets and former PayPal executives who now work for Google. Clearly Google are seen to be treading on the toes of eBay‘s near-monopolistic cash cow – especially as there are rumours that PayPal are themselves about to unveil their own mobile payment system.
Google, whose company motto is ‘don’t be evil’, are perhaps seen to be getting too big for their boots and putting their fingers into already occupied pies – and their recent track record of high profile flops (Google TV, Google Wave) are perhaps indicative that Google should stick to their day job.