Has Google Given Up on Google Wallet?

Google is changing the requirements for Android certification. According to various sources, the company is adding new stipulations for Android devices from at least 20 devices manufacturers (including Samsung, LG, HTC and Lenovo), that make it necessary for them to use Google services like search engine and the voice assistant app, Google Now, by default. Besides, it will also make it mandatory for the manufacturers to place 20 Google Apps on the handsets by default. 13 of these services may be collected in a single icon.

We went through the list of 20 apps very enthusiastically, but were disappointed to find that Google Wallet was not included in that list. So, the users will still have to download it from the Play store separately, and then will have to add the card details and other credentials separately from whatever information is saved in their Google Play account.

To understand why Google might be missing a trick here, let us take a look at the results of the survey conducted by Thrive Analytics in 2014, that tried to figure out the reasons consumers have not adopted mobile wallets so far:

According to the results, at least 76% of the respondents do not use wallets because either it is too complicated or time consuming, or they did not think about it ever. Google’s push to include the Wallet app with all handset manufacturers would have helped it address the issues of visibility and simplicity.

Most of the manufacturers in the Android eco-system don’t have the leverage with Google, as Android runs on more than 85% of smartphones worldwide. The remaining market (apart from Apple’s IOS) is fragmented and comprises of unsuccessful platforms like Windows, Blackberry and Tizen. Thus, Google enjoys almost a monopoly in the market.

Many people see the tighter requirements as a part of Google’s attempt to bring a uniform and consistent experience to Android users irrespective of the device used. Besides, it is trying to build an experience that involves more of Google’s own advertising services.

But there is also the case for pushing its less successful efforts through these requirements. Google has done it in the past. For instance, in 2012, it tied Gmail and android logins to Google+, to promote its social networking platform.

Google Wallet Interest Over Time (Source: Google Trends)

Payments remains one of the unsuccessful areas for Google for more than 2years now. Isn’t it a good time to leverage its success in mobile platform market to boost its wallet? Google Wallet has only about 20 million users, compared with the 800 million accounts for Apple’s iTunes Store. For Google to succeed in mobile payments, not only does it need far many more accounts, but also a much wider variety of opportunities for consumers to spend their penny.

The best way to increase the base of Google accounts is to closely tie Google services to every Android device, and integrate Google Wallet with the devices. The key is to understand and try to change the consumer’s payment behavior, something that Google has failed to do in the last three years.

Apple has an almost unique ability to make a market. The launch of Apple Pay is expected to be a big boost for NFC based mobile wallet solutions. However, it is equally easy for players to give up and let Apple conquer the huge untapped market.