updated 04:45 pm EDT, Mon September 19, 2011
Google Wallet now live with more cards, one phone
As hinted earlier, Google Wallet on Monday went active for real users. The service in starting off will still work on just Citi MasterCards and the virtual Google Prepaid Card, but is now opening to rival cards. American Express, Discover, and Visa are all making their NFC specs available to let banks add the cards to the mobile payment system.
Just one phone remains available, however. While any store with MasterCard's PayPass will be an option, initial users will have to have a Nexus S 4G on Sprint. Owners will need both Android 2.3.4 and an over-the-air update to start using Wallet.
More phones will come in the future, Google said. The company has been willing to put Wallet on the iPhone if it gets NFC support. Certain BlackBerry phones, such as the Bold 9900 and Curve 9360, also have NFC built-in and could theoretically adapt to Wallet.
The new tap-to-pay service is an attempt by Google to get out in front of mobile payments in the US and promote its own open system before rivals like the AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon-backed Isis arrives in 2012. Its very existence is controversial after PayPal accused it of stealing ideas by poaching key staffers and allegedly getting trade secrets.