Overland Park, Kan. - Sprint partnered with Google for the summertime launch of a near field communication technology (NFC) that turns Android smartphones into a wallet.
Sprint will be the first carrier to participate in the
through its currently available NFC-equipped
, an Android 2.3 smartphone that people can use to "tap and pay," the companies said. The carrier, however, will also provide Google Wallet in additional Android phones in the future, and it said it is also "actively working with others" in the mobile-payment industry to bring additional mobile payment services to consumers.
At launch, Google Wallet will support payments via
eligible MasterCard cards from Citi and via planned Google prepaid cards. "We will support additional payment options as soon as we are able to do so," Google said.
Google is working with First Data, which enables over-the-air provisioning of payment card credentials to Google Wallet, to reach out to more merchants to offer compatible contactless payments.
For now, 124,000 merchants nationally are participating in Google Wallet, which also enables users to redeem offers for Google services and to scan loyalty card information with a single tap.
Eventually, Google said, Google Wallet will "hold many if not all of the cards you keep in your leather wallet today." In addition, "eventually your loyalty cards, gift cards, receipts, boarding passes, tickets, even your keys will be seamlessly synced to your Google Wallet," the company claimed.
For security, users must enter a PIN on their phone before making a purchase. That's layered on top of Android phones' lock screen.
In addition, Google Wallet stores encrypted payment card credentials inside the phone on a Secure Element computer chip, which is separate from the phone's memory and is described as essentially a separate computer capable of running programs and storing data. MasterCard's
encryption technology is designed to protect Google's payment card credentials as they are transferred from a phone to a contactless reader.