Google's fancy mobile payment app apparently will appear on an unlocked Galaxy Nexus running an AT&T SIM.
Officially only the Sprint version of the Samsung Nexus S 4G, Google's old Gingerbread flagship handset, can use Google Wallet software. According to Android blog Droid Life, however, the Google Wallet app popped up in the Market on an unlocked variant of the coveted superphone that was using an AT&T SIM card.
Now that's great news since many people would love to give the service a spin, including me. It's a stretch but that could also signal Google Wallet is slated for an as-yet-unannounced AT&T flavor of the Galaxy Nexus.
The payment system uses Near Field Communication (NFC) circuitry to make retail purchases possible with just a smartphone. Sadly, while many Android handsets across multiple carriers already have NFC chips built in, only Sprint owners of the Nexus S 4G are technically allowed to have fun with mobile cash via Google Wallet.
Enterprising Nexus users on Verizon, however, have been tinkering with an unofficial Google Wallet app for a little while now. You may ask, why would people want to bend over backward to give retailers, banks, and Google access to their personal purchase information?
That's a very good question since that data is intensely valuable to these companies and other interested parties, namely advertisers and marketers. Buying items with your phone does two very important and novel things. Firstly, it ties what you purchase to a geographical location in real time. Secondly, a mobile wallet app links purchases with your individual identity.
All this adds up to a veritable gold mine of information that can command ridiculously high CPMs, the type ad men would trample over each other to sell. Aging plastic credit card technology can't do this, which is why carriers and others yearn to create their own mobile payment system and cut Google out of the equation.
What's in it for us, the mere individual mobile shoppers? A few decent perks I'm hoping for such as smartly targeted promotions that may actually be of practical use, and a way to master a pocketful of loyalty cards. I think it's also pretty slick just to magically buy stuff with a wave of the phone. Time will tell if the trade-off in privacy and security risks outweighs any gain in convenience.