Google Wallet may get physical... with a real card, rumors say

A loosely sourced report says credit cards linked to Google Wallet accounts are now in testing.

Casey Newton Former Senior Writer
Casey Newton writes about Google for CNET, which he joined in 2012 after covering technology for the San Francisco Chronicle. He is really quite tall.
Casey Newton
2 min read

The rumored new version of Google Wallet may be set to arrive, and it could bring something unexpected: a physical card for your actual (not Google) wallet.

Is this the new Google Wallet?
Is this the new Google Wallet? Android Police

Android Police says an anonymous tipster sent in screenshots from the new app showing the option to request a credit card from Google that syncs with any accounts you've connected to the Wallet service. Designed to be used when NFC-enabled tap and pay features aren't available, the card can be used wherever credit cards are accepted, according to screenshots of the app. The app even suggests users leave their wallets at home and bring the single Google Wallet card. They will also be able to redeem special offers just by using the card.

A bunch of other features are coming to Wallet, according to the report, including person-to-person money transfers, the ability to add and withdraw money from a Google Wallet balance, and even a transit feature that could apparently replace the cards used for access to trains and buses.

Google Wallet, which offers a variety of ways to pay online and in stores using near-field communication (NFC) technology, has struggled to gain traction among intense competition and limited availability on smartphones. PayPal, Square and the carrier-supported Isis project are among the many competitors trying to create a mainstream virtual wallet for the masses.

In August, Google began allowing users to load their existing credit and debit cards into the smartphone app, which could then enable payments using NFC.

Google hasn't yet responded to a quest for comment on the Wallet card report. But it did officially announce other changes to Wallet today, updating their API so that merchants can enable payments using the mobile versions of their websites. Today merchants can add a "pay with Google Wallet" button that lets users check out using stored credit cards they have inside Wallet, similar to the way other sites might use PayPal.

"Typically, on mobile websites, you need to key in 17-20 fields of information on a small screen while having to click and scroll through multiple pages to provide shipping and billing information," Google's Barak Turovsky said in a blog post. "It's no wonder up to 97 percent of mobile shoppers abandon their mobile shopping carts. Google Wallet makes it easy and secure for you."