May 26, 2022

Google Wallet: How it works, which countries, and everything you need to know

By Michael L Hicks published 6 days ago

Google Wallet will replace Google Pay in most places, but that doesn’t mean it’ll be exactly the same as before.

Google Wallet

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The original Google Wallet launched in 2011 as a Nexus phone exclusive, allowing contactless credit card payments at specific locations. But a lack of NFC-enabled phones, not enough retail partnerships, and little consumer interest ensured the initiative never really took off despite Google’s best efforts.

Android Pay took Wallet’s place in 2015 as a payment system with much more business support and infrastructure, while Wallet scaled down into a peer-to-peer payment system. Then both services consolidated into the Google Pay brand, a single app for both tap-to-pay and sending money to friends, and Google Wallet ceased to be.

Four years later, Google decided to rebrand its payment service one more time by pulling the Google Wallet name out of hibernation. It will soon launch a new Google Wallet app, replacing the Google Pay app in all but a handful of nations. Sponsored LinksDo You Speak English? You can work remotely from Pakistan for a USA employerUSA Job from Home | Search Ads

Confused? We don’t blame you! But we’re here to explain how the new Google Wallet system will work, how it will be similar and different to the old Google Pay, which countries will support it, and everything else you need to know about it.RECOMMENDED VIDEOS FOR YOU…CLOSEhttps://imasdk.googleapis.com/js/core/bridge3.517.2_en.html#goog_13959119060 seconds of 2 minutes, 53 secondsVolume 0% PLAY SOUND

GOOGLE WALLET, SUMMARIZED

Google Wallet example animation
(Image credit: Google)

Before Google Wallet, Google Pay could store more than your credit cards and bank accounts; it could also save boarding passes, event confirmations, transit balances, and other tools that weren’t strictly “payments.”

By rebranding to Google Wallet, Google is signaling that the app isn’t just for buying things. Instead, it’s truly meant to be a digital wallet that saves any credit and debit cards, passes, proof of vaccination, gift cards, and coupons you’d typically keep in a physical wallet.

If you have something stored in Google Wallet, other Google apps on Android phones will have access to this information. So, for example, if you receive an email on Gmail with a delayed flight time, it’ll notify you and change the stored boarding pass information. Or, Wallet will sync with Google Maps, so if you choose a route that includes public transit and the transit system accepts Google Pay, it will show a banner with your current Wallet balance.

This is where it gets a bit convoluted: Physical store locations will still support “Google Pay” as before. But you’ll use the Google Wallet app to select your digital cards and make those Google Pay transactions. So if you see that a store accepts Google Pay, that means you’ll need the Google Wallet app now, not Pay.

WHAT CAN YOU STORE IN GOOGLE WALLET?

Google Wallet
(Image credit: Google)

Whatever cards you were able to store in Google Pay in the past, you’ll now be able to store in Google Wallet, from credit cards to transit passes. Also, during Google I/O, the company announced new digital ID cards that will eventually work with Google Wallet in the future. 

First and foremost, you can store credit and debit cards in Google Wallet. Most banks and cards are supported, but to make sure yours are, Google has a list of supported contactless payments(opens in new tab) sorted by country. 

You can add your loyalty cards or membership cards, assuming the program’s company has submitted its API to Google Pay. You’ll then be able to tap your phone or watch to apply discounts or balances, as well as pay directly for items.

Plus, you’ll keep your boarding passes and event tickets in Google Wallet, so entering a plane or stadium is as simple as pulling them up and tapping your phone.Advertisement

Google Wallet example animation
(Image credit: Google)

Google Wallet will technically cache transit cards as well, though at the moment, it only seems to support Clipper Card in California. 

In terms of new features, you’ll be able to store COVID-19 vaccine passports; Google says that “if you take a screenshot of your boarding pass or Covid vaccine card from an Android device, we’ll give you the option to add it directly to your Google Wallet.”

Google’s biggest challenge will be to enable digital driver’s licenses or college IDs, which requires legal permission from governments and states to make them valid forms of ID. We’ve also heard rumors that not all Android phones can support licenses due to technical limitations, though this isn’t confirmed.

In the future, Google Wallet will even host hotel room keysoffice passes, and digital car keys — though the latter will require your car to work with the feature.

WHICH COUNTRIES WILL GET GOOGLE WALLET?

Google Wallet
(Image credit: Google)

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In the 38 countries listed below, your Google Pay app will automatically convert into Google Wallet once it’s available. It’ll offer all of the same services before, along with some new ones.

  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Brazil
  • Bulgaria
  • Canada
  • Chile
  • Croatia
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hong Kong
  • Hungary
  • Ireland
  • Israel
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Kazakhstan
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • Netherlands
  • New Zealand
  • Norway
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Romania
  • Slovakia
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • Taiwan
  • Ukraine
  • United Arab Emirates
  • United Kingdom

In addition, both Singapore and the United States will receive the Google Wallet app. But they’ll retain access to the Google Pay app, which will serve as a peer-to-peer payment platform. Those living in these countries will have to download Google Wallet separately.Advertisement

The only exception to these lists is India, which had its own unique Google Pay app and won’t transition to Google Wallet.

GOOGLE WALLET VS. GOOGLE PAY

Google Pay app
(Image credit: Andrew Myrick / Android Central)

Comparing Google Wallet vs. Google Pay only matters for users in Singapore and the United States, where GPay will remain its own separate app. But in essence, Google Pay will become what Wallet used to be: a peer-to-peer payment service.

Google Pay will allow you to connect with your contacts so you can send or receive money. You can pull money directly from your bank account or send your balance back to the bank. It also has special offers from merchants, as well as your searchable Google Pay transaction history in case you need to check old payments.

By contrast, Wallet will focus on tap-to-pay or tap-to-enter services will partnered vendors and organizations. You can use digital cards in your Wallet to pay at Google Pay locations, but it doesn’t focus on P2P payments.

Google also claims Wallet has better interconnectivity with other Google apps like Gmail, Calendar, and Maps — something the Google Pay app never offered.

Michael L Hicks

Michael L Hicks 

Senior Editor, VR/AR and fitness

Michael spent years freelancing on every tech topic under the sun before settling down on the real exciting stuff: virtual reality, fitness wearables, gaming, and how tech intersects with our world. He’s a semi-reformed Apple-to-Android user who loves running, D&D, and Star Wars. Find him on Twitter at @Michael_L_Hicks.

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