In another blow to mobile wallets’ credibility, word leaked out last Thursday (Nov. 1) that Google will soon copy PayPal by introducing a plastic Google Wallet Card—complete with the magstripe that Google Wallet’s NFC hasn’t been able to displace. (This may be what Google was planning to announce last month but didn’t.) Google will be pitching the plastic for times “when you can’t tap and pay,” and any coupons or loyalty cards in a user’s Google Wallet will be automatically applied.
But we have to ask—why? Sure, we understand that Google seriously misunderstood either how hard mobile payments would be, how much its competitors hate it or how unwilling consumers are to use anything but plastic. If this is really Google throwing in the towel on NFC-based mobile payments, we have to wonder what else Google isn’t going to follow through on for Google Wallet retailers. After all, Google will still be tapping the transaction stream for CRM data, even at places that haven’t signed on. Is the search giant going to act like a partner after all this? This move may be just what Google Wallet needs. But chains? Not so much.