The Apple Pay effect: Google Wallet use is skyrocketing

googlewallet
Credit: Google

Apple Pay isn’t just making payments easier for iPhone users; it’s also giving a boost to Google’s own tap-to-pay service.

An unnamed source told Ars Technica that weekly Google Wallet transactions have increased by 50 percent over the last couple of months, and new users since last month have nearly doubled. Google confirmed to the New York Times’ Mike Isaac that the report is accurate without specifying exactly how many people use Wallet.

Google Wallet has been around since 2011, but its growth has been severely stunted by disputes with wireless carriers (who have tried to push their own mobile wallet service), weak retail availability, and security concerns.

Apple Pay only launched in mid-October, but it’s already in decent shape with 1 million card activations in its first three days. Apple promises that the system is more secure than a credit card because it never transmits card numbers to the merchant, and never stores them on Apple’s servers. It’s also more convenient through the iPhone’s TouchID fingerprint reader, which lets users authenticate purchases without even turning on the screen. And while retail support is far from ubiquitous, non-participants are already feeling the pressure to get on board.

Google Wallet isn’t quite as simple, as it requires users to unlock their phones and enter a PIN to authenticate payments, but with visibility for NFC-based payments rising, it seems that more Android users are at least willing to give it a try.

Why this matters: It’s unclear whether Google will try to ride the wave, but it’d certainly be easier for Wallet to make a comeback now. More merchants will likely be getting on board with NFC-based payments thanks to greater consumer interest, and most newer Android devices can support tap-to-pay thanks to a change in the way Android handles NFC payments. And with signs of NFC support coming to Android Wear, paying by tapping your watch could be just as convenient as using your phone—if not more so. If any of this comes to pass, Android users might actually owe Apple a debt of gratitude.

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