Money makes the world go round, or so we hear. And while Google Wallet is a service that revolves around money more than most, so far not much money has been changing hands—any hands. According to business reports, Google is now contemplating paying carriers to adopt its Wallet payment service. Transversely, not-yet-launched ISIS has been promised $100 million in backing by AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile—the same carriers currently spurning Google. Coincidence? I think not.
Google Wallet’s adoption has been tepid at best, mostly because only Sprint supports it, and only on two phones, though 12 more are set for release this year. The Galaxy Nexus was set to be a breakthrough, being a marque device on the US’ biggest carrier, but Verizon nipped that one in the bud. According to Verizon there were “technical difficulties.” The much more likely reason is that Verizon has an exclusive, technical contract with ISIS.
So what does this mean for the future of using our phones as ATMs? We’ll most likely see this adaptation become more and more regular in the upcoming years, but unless Google really pulls out the stops before ISIS’ mid-year release, it most likely won’t be through Google Wallet.
ISIS already has all four major credit cards on its side, as well as Chase, Capital One, Barclay’s, and even soon-to-be Google-owned Motorola. By comparison, Google has Master Card and—in theory—Visa, but we haven’t heard anything out of that deal in quite some time.
The one thing Google does have in its back pocket is its massive secure-server credential database. Seemingly everyone has a Google account these days, and failing carrier support, Google may be able to do secure transactions on the terminal side of things with its servers rather than your phone. This would cut carriers out of the deal, though it may require a bit more retooling of point-of-sale systems than retailers or terminal providers care to deal with.
Where does this leave us? With a mobile “bank” that may end up having to pay our carriers to offer us its convenience because another company has already lured their money with—thus far—empty promises. That’s not convenient for anyone.