Google Begins Promoting SingleTap Wallet Feature
Google is ramping up the promotion of its Google Wallet, announcing that eight retail chains accept both payments and coupons or rewards with a single tap of their Nexus S 4G NFC phones.
The eight chains, which include, clothing retailer American Eagle Outfitters, department store Macy’s, toy merchant Toys“R”Us and smoothie drink purveyor Jamba Juice, accept the payment and coupons or loyalty points together only in some of their locations.
These SingleTap locations total about 1,500 outlets, a Google spokesman told NFC Times. All or nearly all are in five cities where Google is marketing the wallet: New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Washington, D.C.
The merchant acceptance for SingleTap remains small, and the offers are not yet customized to individual consumers or able to support daily deal vouchers, which is Google’s ultimate goal.
Google also announced five more merchants participating for the wallet, all of them regional chains, including oil company and gasoline service station retailer Chevron, New York City-area grocers D’Agostino and Gristedes Supermarkets, the small Pinkberry frozen yogurt chain and Faber news and gift shops.
That brings the number of Google Wallet merchants to 26, only a handful more than the number of chains Google announced in May when it unveiled the wallet. A few, including the large Subway sandwich shop chain, have not yet installed terminals.
Many more merchants–with a total of about 140,000 locations in the United States–can accept payment from the Google Wallet since their point-of-sale terminals support MasterCard Worldwide’s PayPass application on cards and NFC phones. The Google Wallet supports a Citigroup-issued credit application, as well as the Google Prepaid Card, both of which use MasterCard’s PayPass technology.
Now, a month after Google launched the wallet, the Web giant appears to be increasing its promotion. It sent its “Google brand ambassadors” out to participating stores to show consumers how to use the wallet and try to create some buzz. It filmed a video, showing the Google employees with consumers, gleeful at their first NFC payment tap.
“It’s still early days for Google Wallet, but this is an important step in expanding the ecosystem of participating merchants to make shopping faster and easier in more places,” said Spencer Spinnell, director of emerging markets, in a blog post. He asked for more merchants to sign up and for shoppers to buy the Nexus S 4G, the only NFC phone so far supporting the wallet.
Google is facing a challenge of not only recruiting merchants to accept offers from its wallet but in gaining access to the secure elements on more NFC phones to anchor the wallet.
Sprint is the only mobile operator supporting the wallet so far. As it stands, Google will be competing directly with the Isis wallet, due to be trialed during the first half of 2012. The three other major U.S. mobile carriers, Verizon Wireless, AT&T and T-Mobile USA, own Isis. Both Google and the Isis joint venture contend their platforms are open.
Spinnell in his blog post also noted that Google is tweaking the wallet. It has updated the “Offers tab” to include a featured offers section, with discounts only available to Google Wallet users. For example, consumers could get discounts good for 15% off at American Eagle Outfitters and Macy’s, 10% off at The Container Store and an all-fruit smoothie for $2 at Jamba Juice, he said.
At present, merchants that enable customers to pay and redeem coupons are American Eagle Outfitters, The Container Store, Macy’s, Jamba Juice and Toys“R”Us, while Foot Locker, Guess and OfficeMax allow payment and points or other loyalty rewards in a single tap. Only American Eagle Outfitters can accept payment and coupons and payment and loyalty in a single tap and perhaps all three at once.
Google also said that in response to user feedback, it had added more transaction information in its wallet for purchases users make with the Google Prepaid Card, including the merchant name, location, amount of purchase and time of each transaction.
Some Google Wallet merchants have also made announcements in the past week or two drawing attention to their participation, including American Eagle Outfitters and OfficeMax.