Google today officially announced Google Wallet and Google offers: The search giant's foray into mobile payments. Teaming up with MasterCard, Sprint and Citi -- and using MasterCard's PayPass system -- Google Wallet is being put into beta mode starting in San Francisco and is scheduled for full launch later this summer.
The concept is pretty much how it sounds -- turning your NFC-enabled smartphone into your wallet. Credit cards use several layers of encryption, and you'll basically tap to pay using MasterCard's PayPass system.
Google debuted its Wallet services on the Sprint Nexus S 4G (the Nexus S is still the only smartphone in the United States with NFC). Launch the app, and it asks to connect to your account. Then you'll have to enter a PIN. You'll then enter your card information, again, a Citi MasterCard, for now. Note that this is different than merely storing your credit card information on the phone -- it's provisioned through a third party.
Don't have a Citi MasterCard? And don't want one? Google's also including a prepaid card that will let you add funds from other credit cards. But that's not to say you won't be adding other companies' cards in the future -- Google Wallet is an open platform.
More on security: If the phone's screen is turned off, NFC is turned off. And NFC also is inactive until the Google Wallet App is launched. It's got a tamper sensor as well, and will withstand laser attacks. Really. Google said so.
Google also announced Google offers -- deals done through Google, naturally.
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