I’ve been trying Google Wallet in Washington, D.C., and Palo Alto, Calif., and I find it delightfully easy to use. Though still in its infancy, it isn’t hard to imagine digital payments catching on and becoming commonplace. But there are plenty of caveats.
Google Wallet works only with phones with an NFC (near field communication) chip, which allows secure digital transactions over a short distance. In Japan, millions of cellphone users have been using mobile wallets with NFC chips, but the technology has been slow to catch on in other countries. For now, the Nexus S 4G is the only phone in the U.S. that works with Google Wallet, though more phones are expected soon.
While I know there are millions of retailers who only accept cash, my focus is on the “progressive” retailers who use Point of Sale systems, who have some analytics about their customers and etc. For YOU retailers, it’s time to be ready for the time when more and more customers are asking to pay for things with their smartphones.
Already I’ve seen my good friend Rex Hammock use his phone to pay for Starbucks (and many others are doing this), so it’s not too long before YOUR customers are going to ask you for easier mobile payment solutions.