A Thought Before We Begin
Not everything Google makes or produces is made of gold. Not everything that Google does is great. Not everything Google talks about is worthy of some of the overexposure it gets. Not everything Google advertises should make your heart flutter with loving admiration. Ok, now that we got that out-of-the-way. Let’s talk about something Google did that is convenient and oh I don’t know maybe a bit more useful than say Google Buzz (Wow, I really dug up some bodies on that one). Google introduced the Google Wallet Card about two weeks ago. Following this release was the inevitable deluge of screenshots on Google+ of all the happy shiny people and their pure white Googlyfied (is that a word?) Credit err? Debt err? Payment cards. If this type of activity bothers you here’s a tip: adjust your circles accordingly; or stay off G+ for a few days until it dies down (Days meaning about 5 of them). Ok now that we are through with that let’s jump into the article.
Introducing a physical card. What?
I for one was very happy Google decided to make a physical card for transactions outside of the NFC Google Wallet app. Why? Well it’s pretty simple, carriers suck! and they are all on board with ISIS which in my opinion can burn in hell with other obscure apps that are forced down consumers throats like VZ Navigator (Who really uses that? And if you do, STOP NOW!!!). Anyway, unless you’re one of the fortunate people who have gotten that sweet treat called Android Kit-Kat 4.4, then you don’t have that much-needed Host Card Emulation upgrade that Google threw in 4.4 to screw, I mean sidestep, I mean appease, ok work with the carriers so that you can finally use your Android device to make NFC payments at certain retailers. So the not so fortunate are left to continue making traditional payments using traditions cards without really having a need to use the Google Wallet app.
The purpose of wallet was to make payments easier. The thought was to allow a user to place all their payment methods on their phone and select whichever account they wanted at the time of sale to make payments. This would cut the need of carrying multiple cards around with you. Since carriers don’t play well with others, or themselves (see what I did there) Google produced a physical card that when accompanied by the Google Wallet app accomplishes the same goal. It’s not ideal, it’s not exactly what Google wanted, but it fulfills their promise on what wallet is supposed to do. So why am I happy about this physical card that flies in the face of everything Wallet was supposed to be and is really nothing more than a rechargeable credit card you can pick up from Best Buy? Well it’s simple, this card allows me and others the ability to transfer funds to loved ones who may not be internet savvy but know how to use a payment card. This card still fulfills the promise of one card to rule them all if I want to use it like that, though with a 2.9% fee on credit or debt card transfers that’s not likely to happen, but the option is there.
How or why should I use this?
Let’s just be honest this card isn’t magical, hell it’s not even original, and there are other cards and services that do the same thing. But what this does represent is an opportunity for people who trust Google to continue to invest in that ecosystem. Yes, Visa makes rechargeable cards, Yes, Paypal has something similar to this, Yes, COIN is coming and that may gain traction as the next type of payment. But I don’t like Paypal, I don’t trust COIN and well Visa well I got nothing against them. So I have an alternative in Google whom I do trust. So how will I use my card? I will use my card as an alternate account to dump money for my tech purchases when I get paid. I will use this as my “Allowance Account” (because I really need to stop impulse buying, I tell you it’s that damn 1-click button on Amazon). I will have my mom get a Google Card and when she needs money I will transfer it to her directly and tell her to use the card for what she needs. I will do the same with my brother in-law. Again, they don’t understand the concept of email money transfers and would prefer to go to a Western Union instead of dealing through PayPal. But they do understand a phone notification that says: “$250.00 from Jamaar DeBoise Money Received”.
So in summary, the Google Wallet card is not revolutionary, it’s not magical, it’s not (insert adjective here). It’s an alternative and that’s all it is. It’s another way to store, transfer or spend your funds. Could it be more? Absolutely! In time it may very well become so, particularly with the advent of wearables. How much more convenient would it be to simply say “Ok Google, pay with Visa” while wearing your Google Glass or Google Smartwatch and have it auto program your physical card to that payment method before purchase. I’ll tell you it would be a hell of a lot more convenient than pulling your phone out of your pocket, accessing the app, entering your password, scrolling to select the card, standing on one leg, rubbing your belly (you get the point). So is the future now? No. Is it coming? More than likely. Am I excited? Eh, with Apple taking fingerprints and Moto patenting neck tattoos I’m not to sure. But I can’t wait to see where we end up.