Last month, we got an early sneak peek at Google Wallet, the resurrected service that now ties in with Google Pay as a frontend UI for housing your loyalty cards while Pay handles payment processing in the background. Along with the new user interface, the new icon or logo leaked early. Today at Google I/O 2022 though, Google itself took to the stage to reveal it in full.
While the new and improved Google Wallet is a lot of things it used to be – a place to store your loyalty cards and boarding passes in addition its core functionality, it now wants to take things much further. Essentially, it wants to be an all-encompassing replacement for your physical wallet, as demonstrated by the funny video released on YouTube during the event (see below). The updated service stores your COVID vaccine card and transit cards too, and can show you your balance for bus fare, for example. I mean, it’s even working with partners to let you store your driver’s license and ID in Wallet too – wow!
And we know you can’t leave home without your ID, so we’re collaborating with states across the U.S. and international partners to bring digital driver’s licenses and IDs to Google Wallet later this year.
Because Google Pay is baked in, you can still tap to pay at registers using NFC, and even pay someone directly from your Wallet (P2P) straight from a connected debit card or bank account! The whole thing is effectively regaining many of the features Pay lost a while back (please bring this all back to the web interface now!). Oh, and it even keeps you in the loop with event notifications, and flight updates as it cross-connects with other Google services like Maps, Calendar, and Gmail. I see this as an absolute win.
The largest announcement regarding Wallet though, in my opinion, was the introduction of “Virtual Cards“. Technically, these were announced for Google Pay, but again, they’re intertwined in new ways now. While paying for something via an online service or vendor, you can choose to select “Turn on virtual card” to mask your real card number! This means that the bank will verify your card in the background without the vendor ever having to see your real information during checkout. This is awesome!
Google is going to new lengths to de-identify users from their data while interfacing with third parties. Actually, this process is occurring across many services, keeping Google itself from associating you with any piece of information! We’ll have to see in due time how effective something like this is, but adding virtual cards is a great start.
As a last note, the new Wallet will work seamlessly for tap to pay on the newly announced Google Pixel Watch via Wear OS, making it easier than ever to access your cards, boarding and transit passes, loyalty cards, and even your car keys. I’m so excited to get Wallet back on my phone, as it looks much more complete than the Google Pay experience has been over the past few years. Now, we just need a new physical card like the good old days.