Google: Living Your Life For You
The unstoppable march of progress continues forward. Google is simplifying your life for you one aspect at a time, this time in your pants. Or pocketbook. Or wherever it is you keep your wallet.
Google just unveiled its latest project: Google wallet. Already available in several other countries, paying by phone is a seemingly convenient piece of future that should be easy to get behind. You hook up your Citi MasterCard and you can pay with your smartphone wherever the method is accepted. On the surface, given this option I doubt I’d ever go back to a full wallet.
Of course, there are currently a few caveats. First, it seems that the only options for payment are a Citi MasterCard or Google prepaid MasterCard, Gcard. I don’t personally have a Citi MasterCard, and I’m not looking to sign up for one any time soon. A Gcard could be useful, but I don’t want to have to remember to keep refilling an additional card. I’m hoping a system gets worked out in which a person can use any card they already own.
Second, it only seems to be for Android so far. Whelp, sucks for me and my iPhone. Of course, this is also only further incentive for me to hop on the Android bandwagon, in addition to Google Music and general openness. If Google wants this to work, it has to be massively available, which means either getting everyone on Android or figuring out how to make this work for everyone who isn’t on Android. This is something I would use, its something I already want to use. I recognize that I’d need to upgrade my hardware anyway to have access to this, but what if I wanted to stick with iOS, am I SOL? Granted now that Google is working on NFC (Near Field Communication) payments, Apple shouldn’t be too far behind. But still, this is the future! I don’t want to have to wait for things!
Third, places have to accept this newfangled technology. It claims to work wherever PayPass is accepted, but now I’m racking my mind trying to think of where I’ve seen that. Few examples come to mind, but that could mostly be because its not something I’ve ever had the opportunity to take advantage of. Between Google Wallet and its companion Offers (Groupon + Foursquare), success will require support. Google could claim this product will bring about world peace and extend your life by a decade, but if vendors don’t support it people won’t use it, and a grand experiment will fail.
Fourth, probably the biggest deal breaker for some people, privacy and security. To those unfamiliar with Google, this product seems like an excellent effort to help simplify the life of the busy shopper. But like many other things Google does, this is also an excellent effort to target you. With ads. How much of what you buy will Google keep on record for ever and ever? Will your payment options eventually come down to Google Wallet or good olde analog cash dollar moneys? I should hope not, I almost never carry cash and usually prefer plastic. While I might be in a minority of not caring and sometimes even appreciating Google’s efforts to personalize their mostly unobtrusive ads, I’d rather not have my purchase history tracked by the search giant. As for security, people lose phones. Its a fact of this modern world. If my phone is my wallet, that thing had better have 256 MILLION bit encryption with a biometric lock and nucular (yes nucular) self-destruct in case of loss or theft. The NFC chip should be off until I personally address it to become active. If this thing can be hacked then I want my money back right stat now. If news comes out of someone having developed a hack that can steal your Gwallet information by passing you on the subway, I’m out.
Finally, and potentially most importantly, Google Wallet could be dead or wounded even before seeing the true light of day. PayPal has already issued a lawsuit against the company, claiming theft and disclosure of trade secrets. They claim that two employees left and took trade secrets with them, and lo and behold, Google soon comes out with Wallet. To be honest, I don’t really care who puts this out, I just wanna leave my old leather wallet home.
I guess the only thing to do now is wait for more information to come out, and for the product to hit the streets. I know my fingers are crossed that this works out. To THE FUTURE!!