Report: U.S. Cellular adding support for Google Wallet
U.S. Cellular is updating its Samsung Galaxy S III to integrate Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) Wallet, expanding the application beyond the handful of Near Field Communications-enabled Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) smartphones currently supporting its contactless payment technology.
A device service bulletin obtained by Android Police indicates that a Samsung Galaxy S III maintenance release issued Wednesday to U.S. Cellular customers includes Google Wallet tap-and-pay functionality. A leaked U.S. Cellular image reveals the regional operator plans to expand Google Wallet to additional Android devices in the future, but it does not specify which smartphones or a proposed timetable.
Google Wallet's expansion beyond the Sprint device portfolio is a significant milestone for Google, which has struggled to secure operator support for the service. Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ), AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) and T-Mobile USA have shunned Google Wallet as they focus on building out their own nationwide m-commerce network, Isis. Reports also indicate Sprint is planning its own rival contactless payment initiative, casting doubt on how Google Wallet fits into its plans moving forward. Support from smaller players like U.S. Cellular ultimately could be crucial to the service's success or failure.
Google Wallet first launched in May 2011. The app enables consumers to make purchases by tapping their Android smartphone at more than 200,000 MasterCard PayPass-enabled merchant terminals across the U.S. Google Wallet also includes support for SingleTap, which allows users to redeem coupons and/or earn rewards points, as well as Featured Offers, which spotlights exclusive discounts from select retailers.
Although Google has never revealed the number of consumers using the app, the company said last month that usage has doubled in the six weeks since it rolled out a cloud-based version supporting all credit and debit cards from Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover. In addition, financial services partner Barclaycard US recently announced it will aggressively promote Google Wallet across its L.L.Bean and US Airways co-branded card programs, encouraging consumers to save their cards to the app from their online account. Once signed up, Barclaycard cardholders will see a full-color digital image of their card as a Google Wallet payment option.
- read this Android Police article
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