The Google Wallet Is Open for Business

As expected, Google has launched its mobile payments service today, allowing a very few people to tap their phones to pay at the register.

As part of the announcement, Google declared that it will also be working with Visa, American Express and Discover in addition to its original partners MasterCard and Citi to bring the technology to more consumers.

The Google Wallet will be pushed to owners of the Sprint Nexus S 4G in an over-the-air software update, according to a Google blog post.

The announcement has been expected since May, when Google unveiled its plans for an official launch this summer.

Still, the rollout is more symbolic today than anything since the impact to consumers will be small until near field communication is adopted more widely by merchants, carriers and wireless handset makers.

The addition of Visa, American Express and Discover into the offering will help some of the adoption concerns as more cards can be added to the Wallet in the future versions.

Users will be able to tap and pay at roughly 150,000 terminals in the U.S that are enabled by MasterCard’s PayPass technology. And, with the addition of Visa, Google also will have access to Visa’s payWave NFC-enabled terminals totaling “hundreds of thousands of retail locations worldwide,” according to a statement by Visa.

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik