Google Wallet vs Google Pay: What’s changed?
(Pocket-lint) – Earlier this year, at its I/O developer conference, Google announced that Google Pay was being replaced by Google Wallet in most regions.
Android users in over 40 countries have access to Google Wallet, and for most it has replaced the Google Pay app as the only unified payment app on Android devices.
In the US and Singapore, however, Google Pay and Wallet exist side by side. The Pay app is still used to send money to friends, much like Venmo.
To confuse matters further, Google also uses the term Google Pay to describe the act of paying for things with Google Wallet.
Here is the official award:
“Google Wallet is a secure and private digital wallet on Android that gives you quick access to payment cards, passports, tickets, keys or IDs. With Google Wallet, you can use your phone to tap to pay anywhere Google Pay is accepted.
Google Pay is how you easily pay for things online, in apps and in stores.”
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To get a better understanding of these services, let’s take a look at what each term refers to now, as well as how the service has changed over the years.
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In the simplest terms, Google Wallet is the new name for the Google Pay app. It works exactly as it always has, allowing you to add credit and debit cards that can be used for contactless payments with NFC.
Over the years, Google has added support for things like covid vaccination records and train tickets that can be added to your digital wallet for easy access. With the introduction of Android 13 and the Google Wallet app, the company is adding support for more things like IDs, digital car keys, boarding passes, concert tickets and loyalty cards. It also strengthens security measures to keep your valuable data safe.
With all these new features, the app is useful for much more than just payments, so the rebrand makes a lot of sense. However, this is not the first time Google has used the Google Wallet name, which can cause confusion. We explain more about the history of Google Wallet below.
Google Pay now refers to two different things. For most of us, it’s simply about paying for things with Google Wallet. So if you see a sign in a store, or a badge on a website, it says “Google Pay Accepted,” which means you can use Google Wallet to pay.
If you live in the US or Singapore, Google Pay is also the name of an app. The Google Pay app allows peer-to-peer payments. Say you owe a friend $10, for example, you can use the Google Pay app to send it to them, just like Venmo or the Cash App. For everything else, you use the Google Wallet app.
A brief history of Google’s payment apps
Google first launched Google Wallet way back in 2011, and it was the first time Android devices could make contactless payments via NFC.
At the time, contactless payments were a new phenomenon and NFC had not yet been adopted by the Android phone market. Google Wallet was not used by many people and was initially limited to the Google Nexus phone.
After about four years, Google Wallet was replaced by Android Pay. There were two key differentiators with Android Pay, firstly it was built into Android so you didn’t need to download an extra app, secondly it was much easier to use, it didn’t require finding the app and entering a pin , users could simply unlock their phone and place it over the reader to pay.
Google Wallet continued to exist as a peer-to-peer app for sending money, much like Google Pay is today (confused enough yet?).
In 2018, Google merged its Google Wallet and Android Pay services, bringing everything under the name Google Pay. In supported regions, both peer-to-peer payments and digital wallet functionality were merged into the same app.
As we mentioned earlier, Google has been adding more and more functionality to Google Pay in recent years. Finally, it allows you to store gift cards, tickets, membership cards and more.
And that brings us to now, with a rebrand to Google Wallet, which feels like a more accurate name for the service — but the split of peer-to-peer payments, which feels like a step backwards.
As for what happens next, time will tell, but we hope it’s not a rebrand to Android Pay again.
Written by Luke Baker.