Can I store my driver's license in Google Wallet?
Best answer: Yes, in some states. The new version of Google Wallet includes support for digital IDs, including digital driver's licenses. However, support will vary depending on state and other local legislation. Currently, that includes residents of Maryland, but the technology is there to permit the feature, and Google plans to roll it out in other places, possibly as early as later this year.
What is the difference between Google Wallet and Google Pay?
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Google Wallet and Google Pay are effectively the same thing, with Google Wallet being the new branding for Google Pay in many countries. Though in the U.S., Google Wallet and Google Pay will continue to co-exist as two separate services.
Yes, it's a bit confusing. But we'll break it down. Introduced at Google I/O in May 2022, the companion Google Wallet app is designed to function similarly to the Apple Wallet on iPhones, storing digital versions of store payment and loyalty cards, event passes and virtual tickets, digital IDS, flight boarding passes, transit cards, vaccination cards, and more. With some cars that support digital car keys, those can be stored in Google Wallet in the future as well.
Of course, Google Wallet will also store credit and debit cards to support mobile payments. Google is also working on, and in some states has already added, features like hotel and office keys, even company ID and access badges, health insurance cards, and more.
Google Pay, which launched in the U.S. in 2022 (and was merged with Android Pay in 2018), will continue to function in the country as a standalone tap payment method, which can be accessed from compatible mobile devices, including smartphones, tablets, and smartwatches. For other countries, Google Pay will simply be integrated into the newly updated Wallet app. Google Wallet is available for all the best Android phones.
How does driver's license support work in Google Wallet?
Currently, residents of Maryland can add their driver's licenses to Google Wallet on any phone running Android 8.0 or later, as long as it has device lock enabled (for security reasons, of course). Once loaded, you can use this digital ID at places like TSA PreCheck lines in select airports. Later this year, a digital driver's license in Google Wallet will be accessed for things like verifying online accounts and booking a car through Turo.
Later this year, the ability to store a driver's license in Google Wallet will be available to residents of Arizona, Colorado, and Georgia as well. There's no timeline for launch in other states, but Google is continuously working with local governments to gain approval across the U.S.
Why store your driver's license in Google Wallet?
Having a digital driver's license means being able to leave your physical wallet at home, having instant access to the ID versus frantically searching through your wallet, purse, or glove compartment, and being able to display ID quickly and efficiently. This might be while doing everything from buying liquor at the grocery store to renting a car, going through a security checkpoint at the airport, or gaining entrance to a venue.
The primary concern is privacy and security, making sure that such sensitive data doesn't end up in the wrong hands or lead to identity theft. A user's personal information needs to be protected such that a digital driver's license can't be hacked or digitally altered in any way. If all these humps are overcome, there's real value in being able to store your driver's license digitally.
Granted, you would also need to keep the device charged up at all times or have a failsafe feature that could display the license, even when the phone is turned off or not connected.
The possibilities are endless when it comes to a driver's license in Google Wallet. Now that the feature is here, albeit in limited fashion, it could be a game-changer.
Google Wallet is a reinvention of Google Pay that combines mobile payment capabilities from connected debit and credit cards with a single spot to store digital versions. You can also store loyalty and payment apps, vaccination cards, events tickets, boarding passes, and now even in some states, your driver's license, so you can truly leave the wallet at home.
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Christine Persaud has been writing about tech since long before the smartphone was even a "thing." When she isn't writing, she's working on her latest fitness program, binging a new TV series, tinkering with tech gadgets she's reviewing, or spending time with family and friends. A self-professed TV nerd, lover of red wine, and passionate home cook, she's immersed in tech in every facet of her life. Follow her at @christineTechCA.