Holy crap - Google Wallet just dropped a bomb on everyone and announced that the service now supports Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover. We sort of suspected something like this would happen, and Google has managed to do it by making Wallet payments partially cloud-based, as opposed to a fully embedded system.

This means Wallet will work offline for the actual payment (it stores an encrypted card ID in the NFC chip), but does require an active internet connection if you want switch payment options or add a new one. Your card should stick in the system once selected, and as long as it is selected, payment should continue to work offline. You can only have one card selected at a time, however.


We'd heard talk of a "hybrid" cloud / NFC system before, and it appears this is what Google had in mind. Google is using the Google Wallet MasterCard as a physical NFC intermediary of sorts with your regular credit cards.

We've come up with a basic explanation of how we're thinking this all works offline, though we aren't credit payment processors, so anyone with some more information on how these transactions are handled, feel free to chime in.

  • Wallet receives a request for a payment via NFC. Wallet then sends the MasterCard Virtual Card credentials to the payment terminal, along with the stored Card ID (your card) from the NFC chip.
  • The payment terminal sends those credentials to the MasterCard's bank (Bancorp) for payment authorization, along with the card ID stored on your device.
  • Bancorp forwards this to Google, and Google then attempts to authorize your selected Wallet payment card if the card ID checks out.
  • If it's successful, Google tells Bancorp to authorize the transaction.
  • If the transaction goes through, Google then charges your selected Wallet card for the amount of the transaction - all done, no device-side net connection needed.

We also have the APK here, if you want to mess around with it. Right now only some devices are supported (Google still has to partner with the carrier for the Virtual MasterCard to work, unfortunately), here they are so far:


Google Commerce Blog

David Ruddock
David's phone is whatever is currently sitting on his desk. He is an avid writer, and enjoys playing devil's advocate in editorials, and reviewing the latest phones and gadgets. He also doesn't usually write such boring sentences.

  • skitchbeatz

    Now if only I could find a place to use it!

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      There are tons of places that accept it - the MasterCard PayPass logo on terminal is all over the place.

      • skitchbeatz

        I personally haven't found one myself.

        • http://www.facebook.com/kam.w.siu Kam Siu


          use that to see if there're any in your area...

        • http://thedangerbrain.com/ Alfonso Surroca

          7-Eleven, Walgreens, Home Depot pretty much have PayPass at almost all locations. I go to 7-Eleven for a drink or to fuel up, so I actually use my Wallet account all the time!

          • Bob Oertle

            That dog won't hunt here. Tried them all. Most of the managers and clerks have zero clue what I am asking about. One even questioned my Google Card, he thought it was something made off the internet. LOL

        • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

          You don't have a local RiteAid or CVS, for instance?

          • skitchbeatz

            I do. I shall go out searching tonight!

        • fixxmyhead

          then u need to get out more. they have them at 7-11's

      • http://resaberz.blogspot.com/ Rebornyama

        Can i use it on VISA paywave?

      • Bob Oertle

        I have found several businesses listed, but none of their devices work. Clerks tell me people try using the tap and pay all the time, but thus far none have had success. Nor did I, even at the pay booth at the Reasor's Grocery store where the terminal reads and has the logo and an additional clip on reader on the top. All dressed up and no where to go....

        • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii


          It worked for me every time I tried it, which was mostly at my local CVS.

    • http://btwnworlds.tumblr.com/ Lou G

      McDonalds, Wendys, APlus/Sunoco stores are good examples.

    • serrastone

      I just noticed that my local Wendy's in BFE in southeast Ohio has a paypass reader attached to the ledge at the drive through. That blew my damn mind!

  • Greyhame

    Still sad every time I see big red's NEXUS device left off lists like this.

    • skitchbeatz

      it's because it's not a real nexus device.

    • mduran1023

      You used to be able to download it through the Android MWC app, not sure if it still works.

      Once its been installed, you can reinstall it at any time through the mobile Google Play All apps list.

    • Rafael


      I was able to download it straight from the play store on a computer.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=714859472 Rajvir Singh

    How would it work on Nexus 7 if it needs an Active Data connection and you don't have wifi?? Would the transaction go through and update the balance when it gets connected or it won't work at all??

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      That's what I immediately thought. We're still trying to figure out how exactly this will work, but it's more than likely that the cloud-based cards will need an active Internet connection on the device. There is still a chance that the terminal can be used to connect instead, but I have my doubts.

      • jm9843

        This is explained in the Google Commerce blog post that David linked to. A data connection is NOT required at all.

        • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

          That is not correct and it's not explained well at all as you say. We are already running tests, and you can only select some cards (ones that store card info on the device), but not the linked cards that are stored in the cloud.

          • jm9843

            How do you figure? The mechanics of the POS transaction are exactly the same as before.

          • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

            Selecting some cards still requires an internet connection, so it doesn't look like you can swap between your cards or select one when you're in a store without a connection. It's still very much unclear just how long a pre-selected card will stay active without a connection.

          • jm9843

            Actually, that's not the case. After the INITIAL setup of the card on the phone/tablet, a data connection is not needed. The relevant quote from the blog post:

            "A wallet ID (virtual card number) is stored in the secure storage area of the phone, and this is used to facilitate transactions at the point of sale."

          • marcusmaximus04

            Not really true. Just tried it. If you attempt to select another card without a connection, it pops up an error saying "Network access is required for this operation"

            EDIT: Unless that card is the google prepaid one or a citi card.

          • http://www.facebook.com/johan.peachtree Johan Peachtree

            I'm thinking that your device has the same unique id (Card Number) no matter what payment card is selected in the app. The need to be online is for switching which payment card is to be charged on the backend.

      • marcusmaximus04

        Wallet doesn't use an internet connection to process payments, just to add/remove/select cards. If you have a card selected and use it to purchase, no connection is required. The card info is sent to the machine over NFC and the terminal handles the rest of the connection.

        • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

          "select cards" - so you have to preselect your card when you're online and you can't switch between them without a connection? How long does a pre-selected linked card (like the cloud-stored VISA) stay active? Does it survive reboots? There are quite a few questions still.

          • marcusmaximus04

            Right. Then again, the number of times you can run into any issue related to that seem slim. You'd have to be using a device with no internet connection and have the need to use some specific card other than the one you have selected.

            Seems like more of a very, very slight annoyance than anything major.

          • WITTERU

            I think you need to have a data connection for the initial setting up of the card, after that when you use google wallet the information is transmitted via NFC to the NFC receiver at the store where it uses the stores internet connection to query googles servers where the previously established card is.

          • marcusmaximus04

            No, I tested it out. It pops up an error if you try to select a different card other than the google prepaid one(or, I'm assuming, a Citi one. Don't have one to test it with)

            EDIT: At least that's the case from within the phone UI. But I can't imagine it'd actually use a different card from the one it shows in the phone's UI.

          • WITTERU

            When i just setup mine i was able to hit a select button at the bottom of the card and then the title information changed from "Select" to "Selected" and i also noticed that the card is still "setting up" for a little bit after the user think its added.

            I haven't been able to test anything out yet just relaying what i noticed.

          • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

            OK, tried it on my N7 and figured it all out. The selected card info (its wallet ID) gets cached securely on the device for some time (maybe for a really long time until you switch or it expires) and after this point you will not need to be online unless you need to switch cards. Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant.

    • Tyler Chappell

      I am wondering the same thing

    • Anonymous

      You do not need a connection to make a payment. You do need a connection for the transaction details to be populated in the transaction history.

  • moelsen8

    you can push this to your verizon gnex using a direct link to the web play store (couldn't find it when i searched the web store logged in with my account).. i'm using a pc right now too. but it pushes to the phone and is all set up for me. but still not in the installed apps market listing.

  • http://twitter.com/yellowspyder Spyder Ryder

    +100. We'll never see merchants in this small town of 35,000 ever get anything to scan our phones on... and I would SO love to do this (SGS3)

  • http://twitter.com/yellowspyder Spyder Ryder


  • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

    Yes you do. The new version requires it.

    • Tyler Chappell

      Which makes it partially useless on my N7 since not every store I would use it in would have wifi now right?

      • jm9843

        @google-426f27b37c02fde4dc0ecc722cac3166:disqus You won't need a data connection in the store to actually make a purchase. A data connection is only required the first time that you add a payment card to the Wallet app on the phone/tablet.

        • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

          Correction: it's also required any time you switch cloud-based Wallet-connected cards. But once you select one, you don't need to be online.

        • Tyler Chappell

          ah ok, that is what I had hoped, wasn't sure if the new cards would all be stored on the device or not.

  • John O’Connor

    the apk link does not work

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      Works fine here.

      • TechJeeper

        Same here, It tried to make me jump through a bunch of hoops and no matter which source I selected, it said the file was removed

        • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

          Try the uploaded.to or rapidshare mirror - they worked just fine when I tried them a second ago.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1808599231 Ariel Felder

    The app won't install once it downloads either

  • jm9843

    @David - the new "cloud-based" Google Wallet app does NOT "require an active internet connection in order to be utilized."

    All of this is spelled out in the Google Commerce blog that you linked to.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

      We've corrected and updated to clarify just what parts of Wallet require a net connection.

  • http://www.facebook.com/JOHN.R.P.JR John Robert Peters

    I see everyone talking about they don't know where they could use this. I'm pretty sure it would be available at any mcdonalds and I think you can use it on the pop machines that have the credit card. There are tons of places that take them...you just haven't been looking.

  • esper256

    Incorrect. It does not need an internet connection. The "cloud based" wording in the press release was poorly chosen. Mostly that was just meant to indicate that the cards you enter "in the cloud" are the same ones that appear in your wallet on the device. It's just in sync with the cloud.

    To be clear, you can still make payments without an internet connection.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

      Only if the card is selected before you make the payment, meaning you have to have gone into the Google Wallet app beforehand with a network connection and selected the card. Edit: The old MasterCards through Citi and Google still work directly offline.

      • esper256

        Your initial blog post was factually incorrect. I was just trying to help out.

      • jm9843

        After the card is initially set up in Google Wallet on the phone/tablet, a data connection is no longer needed.

        Again, from the blog post you linked to which explains it all: "A wallet ID (virtual card number) is stored in the secure storage area of the phone, and this is used to facilitate transactions at the point of sale."

        • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

          Again, if you have the default card selected, yes, it will apparently work offline.

          • jm9843

            I don't care if you admit you're wrong, I'd just like to see a factually correct blog post.

            A virtual I'd for all cards added to the Wallet app is stored securely on the phone. So a data connection is not required to select or pay with a previously added card. I'm not sure where you came up with this business about the default card.

  • Adam Bickley

    My Nexus S 4G (the original Wallet device) shows as not supported when I run the new apk. Hopefully this gets fixed soon.

    EDIT: This may be because it's detecting root on my CM10 installation. I'll check again later.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      Looks like it blocks root.

  • http://www.facebook.com/hudspeth Mathew Hudspeth

    So wait... Wallet just became... useful?!

    EDIT: *sigh* no support for rooted devices, so nevermind.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      Yeah, I was wondering why my EVO LTE is saying it's not compatible with my network/device.

  • lasersocks

    I can install it but says it's not compatible with my mobile network. S3 (international version) on Rogers in Canada.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      Are you rooted too?

      • lasersocks

        rooted, yes.

  • LaRocKa1158

    Just downloaded it on verizon stock gnex

  • http://www.npike.net/ NPike

    So what happens if I have a rewards credit card (Chase Freedom for example), and I make purchases via Google Wallet at a gas station? Probably wont get 3% back (or whatever the percentage is at the time) like I would if I just used the rewards card.

  • guyb99

    Wow - don't need your real wallet now!

  • Jonathan Grubbs

    I installed it from Google Play on my Galaxy S III this afternoon. It installed, but when I launch it, I get this message "Unfortunately, Google Wallet is not yet available for your device or mobile network."

    • John O’Connor

      which carrier do you have? it works on my GS3 on Sprint, but I do not see specific carriers listed next to the SGS3 above. perhaps it only works on US Carriers at the moment

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      Are you rooted? It seems to be blocked with that message on rooted devices.

      • Jonathan Grubbs

        It's not rooted, I just got the phone from radio shack with my upgrade this past month.

      • TechJeeper

        @archon810:disqus My VZW Galaxy Nexus is Rooted, stock 4.1 rom, I am able to use the app, but I get a disclaimer at the top that says "Unsupported Device" and tells me the dangers of having a rooted phone, and that they can't be held responsible, but it dosn't hinder my ability to use the server and app.

  • http://www.WonhoPhoto.com/ Frank Lee

    Just side loaded it to Nexus S on T-Mobile. I see no changes.

    • http://www.WonhoPhoto.com/ Frank Lee

      nvm. i am an idiot. i re installed the apk. trying again right now

    • http://www.WonhoPhoto.com/ Frank Lee

      yup. no luck

  • Rmoralesram23

    Tell me why all those devices in the picture have on screen buttons the SGS3 has on screen button now and the HTC Evo 4g has NFC now Haha so many fails going on.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      They fucked up and forgot the LTE part after EVO 4G. The link goes to the EVO LTE page though.

  • John O’Connor

    i just ran the update direct from the in-phone app (sgs3) and voila everything is working. Now for a test run

  • jm9843

    The article now says: "
    This means Wallet now requires an active internet connection in order to select a card - though apparently not for the actual payment."

    More accurately: Wallet now requires an active internet connection in order to ADD a card.

    After adding the card to the Wallet app on your phone/tablet, a data connection is not needed to either select previously added cards or to make a payment.

    • marcusmaximus04

      Not true. I just turned off my data connection and attempted to select another card.
      "Network access is required for this operation" popped up in an error box. You can still select the Google prepaid card and, I'm assuming, a citi card, but any others give that error. Even switching to the google prepaid one and attempting to switch back gave me that error

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      That is incorrect - you need to be online to select another cloud-based card.


    Was it pulled? The google play link isn't working for me.

  • Michael CoZ

    I tried the "Chrome" trick with the play store on my Verizon GNex... but Wallet isn't showing up. Maybe I am missing a step? The download links on here are useless unfortunately. The 'in app' update on Google Wallet still says it is up to date so I can't do it that way either.

  • Josh Flowers

    of course this happens after i move to a cash budget. hmm...Emergencies only is what i tell myself--but i don't know how many mechanics/hospitals/etc have NFC yet. blast it all.

  • jimsis

    I wonder if Google are planning on releasing Wallet for the supposed iPhone 5 NFC functionality.

  • http://www.WonhoPhoto.com/ Frank Lee

    I re-installed the app after deleting the previous version. it works fine on Nexus S - Jelly Bean - T-Mobile

    • jesh

      can you please tell me how to install? I am on t-mobile nexus s with Jelly Bean and cannot install.

      • http://www.WonhoPhoto.com/ Frank Lee

        download the apk file into your phone. make sure you change your setting to allow 3rd party app installation. then install.

  • fixxmyhead

    still doesnt work on my s2 :'(

    • Raphaël Briand

      Most S2s don't have an NFC chip. In fact I believe only the Korean ones do.

      • fixxmyhead

        The T-Mobile aka Hercules an the skyrocket from at&t have nfc

  • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

    OK, here's how this whole wallet thing works with offline purchases and cloud-based Wallet-connected cards:
    1. You need to be online to a) add a card and b) switch/select cards
    2. Once you select a card, its wallet ID is stored securely in the device for offline use (in the secure NFC area). It stays there even if you reboot your device, though I'm not sure for how long - it probably expires and needs re-validation after some time, and definitely should expire when the card does.
    3. If you're offline, you can't switch between cloud-based cards, but you should always have a pre-selected card ready for use.
    4. When you touch the PoS at a merchant, the wallet ID is read from the device and then forwarded automatically to Google Wallet using the PoS' Internet connection. At this point it's no different than using Wallet on the web - except you've just authorized the exact card using the securely stored card ID from the NFC storage instead of using your Google credentials.
    5. The PoS then figures out if the transaction was approved.

    Does that sound clear to everyone?

    • http://twitter.com/thepowerofscott Scott Nienhuis

      I think this post should be appended to the OP.

      • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

        I have basically the same explanation in the post.

    • http://www.anivision.org/ Christopher Bailey (Xcom923)

      sounds good to me. I just don't know why Google Wallet didn't work like this to begin with. Also apparently if you had credit cards already from *gasp* actually using Google wallet (back when it was checkout) those cards do not transfer over and you need to re-add them >_<

      • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

        Both of my Wallet cards were transferred and just needed me to submit a quick form with my address.

  • http://twitter.com/gitrdone564 Michael Brown

    Just installed on my VZW Galaxy Nexus with the APK. It loads your credit cards added to Google Play it looks like. You just have to set each one up you want to use.

  • roboguy12

    Let's get this going on Verizon, yes?

  • Zacharry Williams

    No where around where i live uses it yet :(

  • jj14x

    So what happens to rewards? Example: Discover offers 5% cashback on certain categories every quarter (or so). Since these transactions are routed thru' google, I'm guessing that discover will be told that the transaction was a google transaction. I wonder if they will notify discover what type of purchase it was (gas/restaurant/etc) - and without that, discover may not give 5% cashback.

    • Jaymoon

      That is totally up to Discover to decide whether it counts as a valid rewards purchase.


      Good news though, is that IF any purchase counts for rewards, then ALL of them will, since the only charge Discover ever sees is from Google Wallet (or The Bancorp Bank)...

  • Raphaël Briand

    This is an international blog - what is available outside of the USA?

    • aghnaar

      Can't install google wallet in my country (france), so I don't think it's supported elswhere.

  • http://www.facebook.com/johnhe John He

    Does it work with root?

  • Zak Taccardi

    it just says "Adding card" forever for me. It's been like 5 hours. I am rooted on CM10 on a sprint galaxy nexus - is that an issue?

    • http://www.facebook.com/johan.peachtree Johan Peachtree

      Click on the "Card". That's how I got it to recognize my debit card.

  • http://twitter.com/thoriqmm Thoriq Muthohari

    Tried to add my debit card. Detects as MasterCard compliant. Is declined. Sucks living outside North America/Europe.

  • Glenn

    For what it's worth, I'm an Aussie and I have a rooted Galaxy Nexus. I used Market Enabler to set my phone to T-Mobile and then supplied a US address and my Australian VISA added first go. I haven't tried it out yet, but I anticipate that it will work fine because the Google Prepaid Card worked fine last week when I tried it out.

  • http://twitter.com/kev_martin Kev Martin

    Disappointing to find the whole service is still restricted to merchants from the USA/UK

  • Jon Garrett

    I just wish this shit would work with ALL new devices. like why the hell cant my brand new AT&T Galaxy S III run this app? neither can my Galaxy Note!!

  • CJ Walker

    Just got a Galaxy Nexus today. This is awesome fucking news. Just added my Chase debit card, can't wait to try this out!

  • Fabulas


  • http://twitter.com/tonyjackson Tony Jackson

    any card but not any phone - thanks google

  • Colin Mackenzie

    It doesn't accept UK Amex cards for purchases made in GBP, only USD!!

  • Serenity

    There are problems with acceptance in my Visa card..I have tried several times for my cards to work from my own account..After Visa tried to claim it was a freud charge after I made my own purchases....It is coming to corperate America where they are trying to tell you what to spend your money on..It is my money..My debit card..