The Successes and Failures of Google Wallet
When Google Wallet became unofficially available on Verizon's Galaxy Nexus, I immediately downloaded and installed it; curious to see how it worked. Paying for things with my phone sounded like a pretty novel idea, and given all the fuss about its non-inclusion on Verizon I wanted to see if it was worth it. Well, the bottom line is that it is pretty disappointing, save a few small points.
To start with, the app initially ran very slowly. Swiping between cards was incredibly unresponsive, especially in comparison to the overall experience of Android 4.0, which was (and is) exceptionally smooth. I suspect this was an effect of the unofficial nature of this app, which has sped up quite a bit with the latest update. I still have issues paying at the pump however, where I will wait upwards of 15 to 20 seconds for the phone to register a payment. Given that I can just as easily pull out my credit card, swipe it and be on my way in seconds, this is a bigger issue than it sounds. If Google Wallet is to be a credit card replacement, it has to be at least as efficient.
Ubiquity is also an issue. I've found three places in my hometown that accept PayPass. One of these places (a nearby Sheetz) accepts PayPass at the pumps, but would not accept it in store. I'm not sure if this was an issue with Google Wallet, or an issue with Sheetz, but the terminal ‘beeped' as if it took the payment. For Google Wallet (or any NFC payment method) to catch on, you need to be able to use it everywhere. Think back fifteen or twenty years ago, when it wasn't a given that places would take a credit card and you'll have an idea of what I'm talking about. If Google Wallet wants to replace my actual wallet, it has to be everywhere.
The experience is not all bad however. With the latest update, the time to get from login to payment is much improved, and I suspect these terminals will start popping up more when more phones have the functionality. I'm actually hoping that the next iPhone has NFC payment built-in. Having this tech in millions of phones is exactly what it needs to catch on. The bottom line is, the tech is (mostly) there, but it remains a niche feature due to factors largely out of Google's hands.