updated 10:30 pm EDT, Sun September 18, 2011
Google Wallet gets hard launch date
Google is finally expected to switch on Google Wallet on Monday after unveiling it four months earlier. Partners are receiving a notice telling them that the NFC (near-field communications) tap-to-pay service will be ready to use anywhere a MasterCard PayPass terminal is active. Although a few NFC-aware phones have launched since, TechCrunch understood that the Nexus S 4G running Android 2.3.4 would still be the only phone to support it at first.
Users who don't take advantage of the Google-branded card will have to use Citi-supplied MasterCards at first, with neither other credit cards nor debit cards on deck. When unveiled, Google hinted that at least other banks' MasterCards would work in time.
The launch is timed with the start of NFC World Congress in France. It also comes several weeks before the expected Nexus Prime. Google is presumed to be using the Ice Cream Sandwich-loaded phone as a technology showcase and would want at least the Sprint version of the phone to support Google Wallet, if not Verizon and other US carriers.
Google Wallet should be the first truly national NFC-based mobile payment system in the US and, while limited, will beat the multi-carrier Isis system by several months.