Google Wallet isn't being completely replaced by Android Pay, but big changes are coming

Android Pay is a new initiative from Google that seems to be a more comprehensive effort at a payments system, hitting key points and features that Google Wallet never did. With Android Pay, you'll be able to have multiple debit and credit cards associated with your Google Account to make payments in stores, online and within apps. Most importantly Android Pay is supported by the top three of the four big U.S. carriers, payment processors and banks, while keeping your information secure with new mechanisms.

Wait, that sounds like a lot like Google Wallet, right? Yes, but that doesn't mean that Wallet is going away — things are going to change a bit, though.

While all of the hype is swirling around Android Pay — and rightfully so, it seems like a good platform from what we've seen — the Google Wallet Google+ account posted an interesting message clarifying what's happening to that other Google payment system. The post focuses on the high (and increasing) adoption of the Google Wallet feature that lets you send and receive money with other people through the Wallet app and Gmail, and says that going forward that's what Google Wallet is going to be all about.

Android Pay

A new version of the Google Wallet app is coming this year with a focus on these person-to-person transfers, and the post mentions that it'll still be easy for people to send money for free in the U.S. using a debit card (no mention of credit cards here) in minutes. The money will be able to be deposited into a bank account or spent with a physical Google Wallet card (remember those?). You can already do all of that with the current Wallet app — but this seems to indicate that everything else is going away. With the focus on personal money transfers and a physical Google Wallet card, it lets the fancy new brand of Android Pay take care of the rest.

As announced today, Android Pay already has the capability to replace pretty much all of Wallet's current functionality, including managing multiple payment types and sources, as well as taking payments in a variety of situations and apps. Android Pay seems to have a better grasp of how to manage payments in stores as well, and while it relies on the same NFC terminals as Wallet, the system of "funding" your account and making a payment via a virtual MasterCard are gone — you'll now be making a direct payment to the store from your credit or debit card. It's a better system, and hopefully this time around with proper infrastructure and partnerships it'll actually work.

If you're still confused about the situation right now, you can join the club — Google unfortunately hasn't been too clear about where Wallet will stand as Android Pay launches in full. As we can tell now, Android Pay is going to take over nearly all of what Wallet currently does as a second attempt at creating an all-encompassing payment system for Google, leaving Wallet to be a much more narrowly focused app. We'll see how that works out this year.

Source: +Google Wallet

Andrew was an Executive Editor, U.S. at Android Central between 2012 and 2020.

133 Comments
  • Bring on Android Pay! Posted via the Android Central App
  • Yep! Mobile payments are way, way overdue! Posted via the Android Central App
  • You are confused. Ive been able to mobile pay for years since the galaxy nexus, then the nexus 4, 5 and finally my moto x 2013, 14. Whats overdue is retailers getting nfc terminals installed. there is no financial incentive to do so, thus the majority or retailers are stalling, like target. they spend money just to make our visit a bit quicker than swiping a card, it does not make them money and costs a ton to outfit all their stores with nfc readers.
  • Think they're being sarcastic.. Nexus 5 (AT&T)
  • The current form of mobile payments on Google Wallet is a kludge, though. Like the article states, it is basically a virtual credit card, backed by a bank account or real credit card (though it is tokenized, so there is that benefit). When you make a purchase this way and the charge skates across your bank account, it lists as a general withdrawal with no other information as to where the money went, making it difficult to track. It sounds like Android Pay will fix this issue, among others, as the payment will go direct from your bank account to the store, restaurant, etc.
  • That's not true at all. I have wells Fargo and can see the name of every place I have used google wallet. Also wallet has its own transaction history I can look at and match the times and transaction amounts should what you say ever happen. Again not kludgy or difficult or annoying to use. Try it and you might understand how easy it is. The part in the article about funding a virtual card and paying from that card I think was fixed in the first year and a half. It comes straight out of my debit or credit card but yes does pass through that tokenized card. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Which is part of the issue. You're stuck trying to reconcile random purchases in your bank account with real data in Google Wallet. No one wants to have to do that, it's like balancing a check book, even though you AVOID writing checks to get away from that burden. The new system will be better. The current Wallet System is bad, however, it's not ALL bad since you can avoid putting your bank account in Wallet and simply load some cash here and there onto the Wallet Card for use when you're out and about. If only Apple had a similar "fallback" for people who don't want to tie their bank accounts or CC's to iTunes.
  • I dont know what you're talking about. All Google Wallet purchases show in my bank account IMMEDIATELY as "GOOGLE NFC" "NAME OF BUSINESS" "CITY". For instance *GOOGLENFC*GEORGIOSPIZZA*PITTSBURGH
  • Again this is false. Its not random lines on my bank statement. I have wells Fargo and it properly resolves the description of the merchant from Google. Your bank may not display that correctly, I dunno. On my end i see who i spent money with no problem. I regularly use wallet with no issues at wataburger Posted via the Android Central App
  • I've used Google Wallet for some time and have not experienced what you described. I have multiple cards from multiple banks on the same Wallet account and everything always shows up appropriately named and described. Posted via Android Central App
  • "Try it and you might understand"
    As a non-US resident, putting me squarely in the majority of android users, I would love to try it... But I can't!
    Hopefully these sweeping changes will enable wallet, I mean Pay to be rolled out internationally.
  • This sounds great to me. I don't care what it's called as long as it works. It appears that this new Android Pay will be usable in more places than Google Wallet, so I say bring it on! Posted via the Android Central App
  • I got an email like 2 weeks ago saying wallet will be gone. Don't know why they couldn't just re-tune wallet and not copy Apple with the "pay" wording. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Don't worry too much about the name. If history is any indicator within 6 months most Android users will just say Android Pay was first and Apple copied it. :)
  • Wait, what things have Android users incorrectly claimed Android had first?
  • Pretty much all modern smartphone features were on Android years before iOS.. Nexus 5 (AT&T)
  • But android did have it first.
  • Android Pay was just announced today and is not even out yet. But thanks for proving my point. :)
  • Google wallet has been around for years... This is really just a major revamp of that service with a new name.
  • I certainly know Google Wallet has been around for years. I've been using it. But this post is all about copying the name. And this major revamp of which you speak makes it a whole lot closer to Apple Pay than to Google Wallet. I just don't like fanboys on either side, and I have no problem giving Apple their due. Many of us forget that IOS was out a year and a half before Android, and when it was announced the planned Android device was much closer to Blackberry than what we think of as Android.
  • Why does all of this matter? Posted via the Android Central App
  • Name one thing Apple invented (other than "rounded rectangles") that they didn't steal from some other company and then rushed to patent first and claim they invented.
  • Jonathan Smyth, you're a total iPhone fanboy! If you actually did your research you would have known Android came before IOS. Get your facts straight and stop trying to defend iOS....
    http://techizblogsg.weebly.com/which-came-first-ios-or-android.html
  • You are wrong, Android was not an available option for the consumer until after iOS. However, yes the company existed and was working on the OS for a while before iOS hit the market, but Google changed direction on what Android would resemble (Blackberry or iPhone).
    --Edit--
    Your own source points out that you are in fact WRONG.
    June 29, 2007
    "The iPhone officially goes on sale. It beats Google's first Android phone to market by more than a year."
  • Did you even read the full article? Here I copied it for you since you skimmed over this part...
    Apparently, Android OS did come before iOS or iPhone, but it wasn’t called that and was in its rudimentary form
  • Copying the name makes sense. It reduces confusion for users. Now they know that this is the same system as Apple Pay on their Android phone. I said on other sites when Apple Pay was coming out that the only thing unique about it was that it was using a brand new _financial industry standard_ (not Apple standard) and that Google Wallet would soon be updated to use the same system. Well, here it is! This isn't Google copying Apple. This is Google adopting the same financial industry standard that was just created a few months ago as Apple has done with an upgrade path from their old proprietary standard that worked around a lack of standardization in the financial industry. Don't be surprised when Microsoft Pay launches later this year on Windows Phone 10. Also, nobody cares which OS came out first.
  • Android did have it first, as Google Wallet.
  • Look, I love android as much as iOS. google wallet was a complete flop. hardly anyone used it. maybe 1-2% of the android user base. ( yes I pulled that number straight out of my arse) Hell, most carriers disabled it out of the box (AT&T)
    Apple Pay showed everyone how to do a mobile payment system, the Right way, that got a LOT of companies (and people) to support it, android copied it to a T.
    i.e. "the merchant doesn't get the CC number" direct quote from Apples keynote a year ago and today at google i/o but, its all good. Both apple are android are stealing from each other. It doesn't matter who had something First, it matters if it WORKS and if people will USE it.
  • But the merchant never got your credit card number with Wallet and all Wallet transactions are tokenization. The only thing new is the name and that may have been done to make the payment system more recognizable. People will know it's an Android alternative to Apple Pay. Very few people know what Google Wallet is.
  • The Apple pay supporters were pretty much the same for Google wallet because their terminals were already in place. Posted via Android Central App
  • I would have loved to use it. The Best Buy I tried to use it at first didn't have the hardware setup, so the reader worked but the transaction didn't Posted via the Android Central App
  • That's because the carriers blocked it in favor of their own payment solution, and Google never advertised it.
  • Just like how Pepsi has been around for longer than coke, because when coca-cola rebranded in the 1980's everything that went before was erased from history. You're right about the name though, apple will sue. Wubba lubba dub dub!
  • What about loyalty cards? Which app will take care if those? Posted via the Android Central App
  • Seems those will be integrated with Android Pay, and automatically track and apply your rewards when you pay with them.
  • KeyRing.. It's the best. Awesome widget too Nexus 5 (AT&T)
  • I don't like the sound of this... it seems like it will operate more like Apple Pay, which means (from my understanding) you have to wait until your bank supports it before you can use it. Good for those that use big national banks. Bad for those of us who use small-town banks.
  • But better for those of us who want rewards on our amex cards. Posted via the Android Central App
  • This! Nexus 5 (AT&T)
  • Yes! I love using Google Wallet, but u want my damn airline miles. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Rewards works fine with Google Wallet. I get 3% off at gas stations and 2% for groceries with my BoA card, and when I use Google Wallet BoA sees them as coming from the gas station or grocery store, and I get my extra rewards.
  • They do not work with amex. Depends on if your bank works with Google or not Posted via the Android Central App
  • I suspect it's actually a mixture. Pretty sure that if your bank doesn't support its advanced features, then it'll work just like the old one, with a virtual MasterCard. But the moment you attach a card with a bank who does, it gets the secure virtual tokenization and whatever else benefits it.
  • The tokenization thing works now, with Google Wallet, so I doubt it will require bank buy-in for that to work with this new system.
  • Not as far as I'm aware. It still acts as a go-between payment network, charging via a virtual MasterCard no matter what payment network you actually have, and it stores your account info to do so. My understanding of the tokenization is that it gets around those issues.
  • You're correct in how it uses a virtual Mastercard, but it uses a tokenized, one-time-use card number for each transaction. Check the Google Wallet FAQ page. It specifically lists that as a feature of using Google Wallet.
    https://www.google.com/wallet/faq.html
  • I looked through as many categories as I could find. Didn't mention tokenization. I know it generates a single-use MasterCard card number, but the impression I got from all the big Apple news was that tokenization was what was responsible for the your ACTUAL credit card being used, but with a fake number, each time and not a go-between provider. If that's all it is, then yes, we've had that all along, and doesn't speak to what Apple did differently, and what Android Pay hopefully will too.
  • Under Security and Privacy -> Could a malicious application access my credit card on Host Card Emulation? "Your actual credit card number is not stored. Only the Google Wallet Virtual Card is stored, and Android's native access policies prevent malicious applications from obtaining the data. Even if the data is compromised, Wallet uses dynamically rotating credentials that change with each transaction and are usable for a single payment only. Finally, all transactions are monitored in real-time with Google’s risk and fraud detection systems.​" Google doesn't explicitly call it "tokenization" but it's the same concept.  For each transaction, a random, unique one-time-use "virtual" card number is generated.  If anyone were to try and use that same card number a second time (such as with a skimming attack) the transaction would be declined.  I don't know that it is technologically identical to how Apple Pay does it's tokenization, but it is the same end result. Some banks that use Mastercard as their payment processor allow a "manual" version of this same technology, for making purchases online for instance.  A user can require a one-time-use card number from the bank's website with a pre-defined approval amount, and know that no unscrupulous website operator could then use that card number to make other purchases. Either way, I feel certain that this same functionality will make it to Android Pay as it is a major security feature for any payment system.  This kind of practice makes hacks like the one that occurred at Target last year inconsequential.  It's a great idea, and I'm excited to see if become more common place.  This is way it should be done in this day and age.
  • I have to assume it will still let you use your Google account payment methods.
  • I hope this means that they will support canada. We already have nfc terminals at pretty much every store i've been to. Posted via the Android Central App
  • doubt it
  • "Android Pay is supported by all of the big U.S. carriers" So Sprint is not a big U.S. carrier?
  • Well they have the top 3, and Sprint is number 4. Don't think as many people will be broken up about that as if they were missing Verizon or AT&T. I'll be happy to reword that as "the top 3 of the 4 big US carriers"
  • Is Sprint still not #3 by a small margin?
  • I know it pains your soul to hear it but Sprint is in fact still #3..Double checking your facts would be nice but then again, that might piss off John Legere....
  • Sprint is still #3. Period. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Doesn't matter. T-Mobile better get on board with this if they are the loan holdout.
  • No Posted via the Android Central App
  • Yes Sprint retook the 3rd spot back and it was only a few weeks that they were listed otherwise. Posted via the Android Central App, HTC Evo 4g LTE ,on Sprint
  • Isn't Sprint just a little bigger than half the size of Verizon? Like 100 million to Sprint's 55 million? Not really fair to call it one of the big ones because it simply isn't comparable. Might be more accurate to just say one of the "national" carriers. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Compared to a lot of the "smaller" regional carriers, Sprint is pretty big.  It's been considered one of the "big 4" carriers for a *long* time, so I doubt that will change anytime soon, unless they have a mass exodus of customers.
  • I thought Tap and pay worked by debiting your bank's debit card directly (ie if you deselect the option to use wallet balance first). They should have just tweaked wallet rather than do this.
  • Considering Wallet was failing to get traction miserably, rebranding as something entirely new is a much smarter strategy than fixing the thing everyone's already given up on.
  • I use wallet daily. I actually get annoyed when I don't see an NFC terminal at checkout.
  • As do I. We're not a common breed.
  • Just because you think it, doesn't make it true Nexus 5 (AT&T)
  • Just because you don't like it doesn't make it false.
  • There was really nothing wrong with the way Wallet worked. Most Android users just didn't know about it. Google didn't do a good job advertising it and carriers were blocking it.
  • Yeah, they could have done a better job and it strikes me as odd that a company that makes it's money off of advertising sucks at getting the word out. Posted via Android Central App
  • Correct. Which is why mostly rebranding as Android Pay and making relatively few substantive changes makes a lot of sense. The core premise was fine, they just failed to get anyone on board.
  • You're right.  And choosing a name so close to Apple Pay will help them ride Apple's marketing coattails.  Not a bad strategy.  That's probably the main reason that they are re-purposing Wallet, so that they can go with a more "recognizable" name.  Google seems to be getting a little smarter about their marketing strategy over the past 2 years.
  • Google Pay would have been a much better name. It is probably what everyone is going to call it anyway.
  • I think they are trying to shift focus to Android for branding and not Google. That's why you have Android Auto, Android TV, and now Android Pay.
  • I suspect you're correct.  "Android" has become a fairly powerful brand.
  • Google's doing the usual approach, make two of everything and see which one sticks. Typical of an unfocused company. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Why does the word Samsung pop in my head when you say two of everything and see which one sticks?
  • Phssh. Please... Samsung makes 5 of everything ;) I do love my Note, though.
  • What does Samsung have to do with Android Pay? This is Google's service. Way to be irrelevant and a bit fanboyish. Posted via the Android Central App
  • I hate that people are going to say they copied apple. Even though google was 1st.
    Only 6% of users use apple pay anyway Posted via Android Central App on 1+1
  • I think you're being generous.. More like .6% Nexus 5 (AT&T)
  • Nooooooooo! Wallet is great... I don't understand... Why, Google? Why? :( At least, I can still get my allowance on Wallet and continue using the Wallet MasterCard, I guess. Posted via AC App on HTC One
  • Softcard used a pointless virtual card and sucked. Google wallet uses your Google account and whatever payment method you have saved there. It's pretty awesome and I use it all the time. Besides upcoming fingerprint authentication, I don't see a difference.
  • Softcard used your actual credit card. Google wallet uses a virtual MasterCard but will be adopting Softcard licenses to use actual credit cards. A much more clean system, and those with small banks can use the amex debit card solutions (probably serve again). Posted via the Android Central App
  • The only issue was not getting your rewards.. That was the only thing that stopped me from using.. Had a Nexus S 4G in 2011.. I was blowing people's minds all over the place, until I realized I wasn't getting my case back rewards.. Nexus 5 (AT&T)
  • With Google wallet as is I get full chase rewards, but amex won't give you then. Posted via the Android Central App
  • No it didn't, you had to sign up for a soft card plastic card, then you could link a credit card to it. And I had it declined a couple times because they restricted daily spending. It was a mess. Google wallet just let's you add a credit card to your Google account or back account, then when you pay it charges that card. How the transaction works is meaningless. It goes thru without needing to sign up for a plastic card.
  • My chase cards worked perfectly. You probably were confused, but it gave you the option to open a Serve account.
  • The only option it gave was a serve card.
  • In the keynote they said that the stores will still get a virtual credit card number. It seems like they're simply separating out NFC payments into a new app called Android Pay and making Wallet a person-to-person transfer only. Doesn't seem like there's any actual new functionality.
  • Seems foolish to me.. Google Wallet should've been the only solution. Just let it evolve.. Nexus 5 (AT&T)
  • But Google wallet doesn't sound enough like apple pay.
  • There's value in re-branding the service into something that "normal" users (aka, those that don't follow the Google IO keynote) will immediately recognize and understand its purpose.
  • But....I like funding my Google Wallet MasterCard and swiping it. I hope this stays. My bank card was skimmed a month ago at a local restaurant (no idea which). Ever since then, I've just been funding my Google Wallet MasterCard with $10-15 right before I pay my bill at lunch. It funds it in < 15 seconds. If someone skims that card, the most they'll get is a few bucks after lunch.
  • Use a credit card dude. You'll have protection against that, gain rewards (or cash back), and build credit. Debit cards and pre paid do absolutely nothing to benefit you. Nexus 5 (AT&T)
  • Credit is overrated but yes credit card does offer some more protection. I don't have a credit score last time I used credit was to get the house about 10 years ago put 75% down finance the rest. Other than that I just save up the money pay cash. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Tokenization, which Apple Pay already uses and Android Pay will use means a unique number is created for each transaction, so there is not a regular 16-dig