Google Wallet for digital goods retirement

Google are pulling out of the payments market for digital goods as of the 2nd of March 2015. Their unhelpful advice is “Because we feel that Google Wallet merchants know their buyers best, we encourage you to research payment processing solutions to best fit the needs of your buyers“.

Google payments history (7 years in 3 paragraphs)

In June 2007 Google announced they were entering the payments market with a “let freedom ring” party in Boston, right at the same time eBay and PayPal were lining up to deliver their keynote speech at eBay Live in the same city.

Needless to say eBay cancelled their Google advertising, Google cancelled their party and sellers who hated PayPal hurriedly signed up for this innovative new payment killer which came with one small problem – it never caught on because there was no selling infrastructure behind it and no compelling reason for consumers to sign up. It wasn’t an auspicious start for Google payments.

Since then Google Checkout was killed off with many merchants advised to go to Braintree (who PayPal promptly acquired), has been rebranded as Google Wallet as a mobile payment system allowing its user to store debit cards, credit cards, loyalty cards, and gift cards on their mobile phone, until today when Google announced they’re killing off Wallet for digital goods.

Google Wallet Subscription payments

If you’re an app developer don’t worry, if you are selling apps on the Google Play Store or processing in-app payments, Google will continue to support this type of payment through Google Wallet.

If however you’re one of the few who signed up subscribers to a subscription paid via Google Wallet you’re pretty much screwed. Not only will Google leave it up to you to inform Wallet users that the service is being killed off, but you’ll also have to persuade your entire subscriber list to resubscribe with an alternative payment method. Basically your income stream is about to die in March unless you act quickly and have very compliant customers happy to sign up again.

Where does this leave Google Wallet?

Since killing off Google Checkout, Google Wallet has been a US only operation. There have been absolutely no indications that Google Wallet will ever hit the UK or elsewhere in the world, so for most retailers don’t even bother considering it in your future plans.

In the US they’re struggling, widespread adoption by retailers simply isn’t happening. It’s all down to NFC as the payment method and the relatively few number of stores that support it. Google realised this and produced a Google Wallet debit card run by Mastercard, but if you’re going to carry that around you might as well just use your normal bank card anyway.

It looks like Google are never likely to catch on as the payment method of choice. When (if) they ever crack the US payments market, it would still be enormously expensive to try and break into physical shop payments in the UK with probably very little financial reward. It’s probably safe to say Google Wallet will remain as a payment method for Google Play, but apart from that it’s probably time to get used to the idea of staying with PayPal or a merchant bank for your payment needs (or perhaps Apple Pay if you’re in the US).

For those who care, you can read the full statement from Google to merchants on the end of Google Wallet for digital goods on their support notes.