Who would’ve thought that Google’s quest for world domination would include taking the place of our wallet, but things are moving in that direction.
Since photos have moved from our wallets to a place on our phones and credit cards are starting to make that migration, Google Wallet thinks there are even more possibilities to reduce our dependence on those accessories and keep everything in one place on our smartphones.
The option rate for using phones as a payment method is going in the right direction, but it’s still got a ways to go. Jenny Cheng, vice president and general manager of Google Wallet, told PYMNTS that the adoption rate is less than 40% penetration in the U.S. for consumers over the age of 40, but younger generations are picking up on the notion much quicker.
A lot of the reluctance is that we have come to count on wallets as a catch-all for things we don’t fully understand how to digitize and put on our phones. Tickets. Healthcare and insurance cards. Driver’s licenses. If there’s something that IDs who we are, then it’s probably in our wallets somewhere.
Are you ready to try some of this?
But for us to put our leather wallet in our dresser drawer for good, a lot has to happen and that’s where Google is now applying some effort. And Cheng likes the company’s chances, too. Google thinks the key to that is educating the consumer on just how simple this process can be.
To start, Cheng’s team is focusing on four things it thinks it can teach consumers to do easily and, hopefully, get them to a place where they take to this like a duck to water.
Anything with a barcode. “While Google Wallet already supports a wide range of pass types, there are passes that haven’t always been easily saveable to your device,” Cheng admitted. “For example, I have a physical gym membership card that I use whenever I go to work out. It's small and can easily be misplaced, but since it has a barcode on it, I’ll soon be able to simply take a photo of my card and create a secure, digital version of it in Wallet.”
She said that QR codes will work in Google Wallet, too, which will be helpful for things like transit tickets, parking passes, even when you’re returning something to Amazon and you have to have a QR code when you drop it off to be shipped.
Health insurance cards. One more piece of paper we can move from our leather wallets to our phone are health insurance cards. If you’re a Humana customer, you’re ahead of the game because it and Google are developing a digital version of their health insurance card to save to Google Wallet. So, when someone gets to their doctor’s office and the receptionist says she needs to see your insurance information, it’s all right there on your phone.
ID cards. The third thing Google is trying to move to its Wallet app is our plastic government-issued ID cards, such as drivers licenses. Already, people with a Maryland ID or driver’s license are able to add their ID to Google Wallet on any phone running Android 8.0 or later that has device lock enabled. In the coming months, residents of Arizona, Colorado and Georgia will join them.
Maryland-issued IDs saved to Wallet can also be used at TSA PreCheck lines at select airports. Cheng said that later this year, Google will begin rolling out ways to book a car or verify other online accounts via Wallet.
Another ID-related goal is to incorporate corporate badges in Google Wallet and Cheng said that will happen later this year, giving employees convenient and secure access to buildings, cafeterias and more. Naturally, there are privacy and security concerns that people might raise in regard to company IDs, but Cheng says the company is prioritizing both aspects.
Travel tickets. Travel preparation, whether for business or pleasure, can be stressful. The worst feeling is when you realize you can't find your paper boarding pass at your gate or on the train.
In the near future, people who use Google's Messages app with RCS enabled will be able to check in for travel entirely through Messages. Ticket or boarding pass will be sent directly to their Messages app, where they can save it in Wallet.
“To have all of this in one place is what’s going to continue to allow that tie-in of payments, identity, and passes … so that everything you need to do, in the real world, is easier and safer,” Cheng told PYMNTS.