What you need to know
- In a recent interview, Google's product manager for Google Wallet said the app will become better for storing important documents.
- That starts with expanded support for digital IDs, which will come to users in more states over the next few months.
- Google said that "Digital ID will be a cornerstone for us in the next year" in the interview.
Google Wallet has come a long way since it was re-introduced in 2022, but a hurdle it has faced is getting U.S. states to support digital driver's licenses and IDs. It's a struggle that nearly all digital wallets face — Apple Wallet only supports four state IDs, for example — but support is going to get better soon.
In a recent interview with American Banker, Google's director of product management for Google Wallet, Dong Min Kim, said that more states will support digital IDs in the app over the next few months.
"Digital ID will be a cornerstone for us in the next year," Kim told American Banker. "We want to create a wallet that will make people feel comfortable leaving their physical wallet at home."
The trickiness in getting driver's licenses and other forms of ID on smartphones has to do with the different rules and regulations among U.S. states. While mobile payments and digital payment cards have become somewhat standard, digital IDs are governed by each of the 50 states. Google needs to work with each state individually to get their IDs in the Google Wallet.
There are other logistical headaches that stand in the way of Google's wallet-ditching goals. For example, while select states allow their IDs to be stored in digital wallets, some of those same states do not accept digital IDs on traffic stops. Physical ID cards are also required to drink alcohol or get documents notarized. Digital IDs, then, are only useful in a few places — like at TSA checkpoints in certain airports.
As of now, people in Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, and Maryland can store digital IDs in the Google Wallet. It's unclear what other states are coming next, but we should find out soon if Kim's comments are any indication.
For reference, Connecticut, Iowa, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Utah, Hawaii, Mississippi, and Ohio have all pledged to support digital IDs in the Apple Wallet. However, the first five states listed committed in 2021, and the final three committed last year. In the time since, there hasn't been much in the form of updates. It would seem to reason that some of these states might also be interested in working with Google, but that's anyone's guess.
In the same interview, Kim said Google is in the process of working with other countries to provide similar features for their IDs in Google Wallet.
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Brady is a tech journalist covering news at Android Central. He has spent the last two years reporting and commenting on all things related to consumer technology for various publications. Brady graduated from St. John's University in 2023 with a bachelor's degree in journalism. When he isn't experimenting with the latest tech, you can find Brady running or watching sports.