Since its inception, things have been tough for Google Wallet. Adoption hasn't been great, many carriers have blocked its use, and the rollout of new features hasn't gone as smoothly as one would hope. In short, it's been a long, hard road for such an initially promising product.

While we've already seen Google cut support for the prepaid Wallet card, the company has now decided to ax NFC redemption of gift and loyalty cards as of August 21st. If you currently have available funds on a gift card that's attached to your Wallet account (and you no longer have the physical card), it's time to spend it, lest it be lost forever. Loyalty cards, on the other hand, are just going the way of the dodo all around – if you haven't kept track of the physical card(s), it may be time to get some new ones.


Dear Matt Donders,

Thank you for being a Google Wallet user.

You're receiving this email because you've added gift and/or loyalty cards to your Google Wallet app, and there's a change coming soon that will affect you.

On August 21, 2013, we are ending the current NFC redemption of gift and loyalty cards added to Google Wallet. If you've already redeemed your gift cards, you don't have to do anything. If you have a balance remaining and you'd like to spend it using the tap and pay functionality, you must do so by August 21st. If you still have the physical gift cards, they will continue to work even after August 21st.

Please note that this does not impact NFC credit and debit card payments, and you'll still be able to tap your phone to make purchases.

We're working with retailers on other options for gift and loyalty card redemption within Google Wallet, and are excited to share them with you soon.

If you have any questions, feel free to email or call us.

The Google Wallet Team                             

Alas, so much for a unified digital wallet.

Thanks, Matt Donders!

Cameron Summerson
Cameron is a self-made geek, Android enthusiast, horror movie fanatic, musician, and cyclist. When he's not pounding keys here at AP, you can find him spending time with his wife and kids, plucking away on the 6-string, spinning on the streets, or watching The Texas Chainsaw Massacre on repeat.

  • Alex Chapin

    Let's hope that they come up with a good replacement to the existing gift/loyalty card implementation when they say "We're working with retailers on other options for gift and loyalty card redemption within Google Wallet, and are excited to share them with you soon."

    • Aaron Jaeger

      How come no one remembers Google Wallet Objects API that was announced this year at Google I/O? It will be what replaces NFC-based loyalty and gift cards. It allows developers to add virtually anything to Google Wallet.

      • Christian

        Exactly. We should be seeing a big update to the Google Wallet app soon, I'm sure. I think NFC payments will stay but all of the other stuff will (hopefully) be handled by a company's development team as they use the API to add scannable loyalty cards, gift cards, etc. I guess we'll see.

      • John O’Connor

        If you were there or were following I/O this year, you may or may not have forgotten. Unfortunately the general population does not usually see (or understand) what is going on in the back-end

  • mgamerz

    So how long till Google Wallet NFC payments are axed? Can someone Photoshop the Villager meme with googles face?

  • GreatNews

    slowly they are closing down Wallet.... Removed from Play Store now removing gift cards whats next????

    • Paweł Gładysz

      NFC is dying because of security and unattended access concerns. Image recognition will be the next step.
      NFC was the main element/sense of existence when speaking about google wallet on my GNex.

      • yankeesusa

        The security issues have been resolved by google, plus those security issues were easily resolved. The next issue is security on the actual reader in stores which from what I have seen are being resolved with a new design. It is still more secure to use your phone than to carry a credit card, especially if all nfc readers are upgraded to the new design.

        • Paweł Gładysz

          I couldn't agree more but in my country, for example, situation went form NFC excitment up to fear of being constantly scanned by illegal amplified readers/antennas ;)
          All this bad rep. has been made based on a number of press articles in the most widely read newspapers and few random materials in "big" TV channels that were, unhappily made by people who have absolutely no idea/small idea of what they are talking about.

          Now, banks withdraw their mobile payment apps plans and do rollout apps based on QR codes scanning, etc...

          Even though most of problems was related with NFC payment cards, bad reputation/fame/rumors affected and still affects the "big NFC picture" including mobile payment apps as well.

          This phenomenon is so overblown that even in "seemed to be enlightened" communities people stop using their NFC cards/turn off NFC services (some banks allow that) to use them as a standard chip-contact ones.

          So finally, hot to show such people that "magic" smartphone payments are safe if they have already retreated to a previous era ;)

    • hp420

      what play store are you looking at? it's still available for me on nexus 4!

      • Justin W

        I'm betting he's looking at it from a device that doesn't support it.

  • nerds


    Although I shouldn't use it on principle, hopefully ISIS will come out soon. Maybe Google has something special in store once that rolls out nationally.

    • CoreRooted

      Meh. ISIS is a joke. I got a chance to test it in SLC and it was horrid. There were only a handful of stores that accepted it around the SLC area and none of them were stores I would even shop at. The other ones were restaurants. I tried it at one and got triple charged (that was fun) and the other one kept declining payment.

  • rgl168

    Google made no effort in expanding Google Wallet to other countries. For example, Paypass/Paywave scanners are all over the place here in Canada and Google Wallet would have worked perfectly here, yet Google has ignored the Canadian market so far.

    • Spatchcock

      Yep, I'm with you on that.. It's the same here in the UK. Handled properly it would be capable of building it's own momentum in the rest of the world eventually gaining too big a user base for US carriers and retailers to ignore.

    • CoreRooted

      Google seems to have forgotten that Canada exists with most of their products. TBH, I just don't get it. Canada is probably one of the easiest markets to get into and they basically think that anything north of the US border is just wasteland. I've never understood it.

      • lljktechnogeek

        When it comes to cell phones, Canada may as well be wasteland. I don't know how you manage to have worse providers than the US, but Canada pulled it off.

        • CoreRooted

          I'm not in Canada, but I have quite a few friends there. To your point, seriously. We can bitch all day about our US carrier cartels, but Canada's carriers make our carriers look nice. LOL

          • yiweitech

            Let me give you an idea of the rates: one of the cheapest plans with reliable service (from Fido because things like wind gives you cheap plans but no service in half the city) is $25 for 2000 texts, 40 minutes, voice mail (3 Max), and call display, no data, no international, not even Canada wide, roaming starts as soon as you go out of the city... And you guys complain about how bad it in the States?

          • rgl168

            First, I've never heard of such a $25 plan from Fido (unless it is special retention plans that were offered to people who were threatened to leave); their cheapest published monthly rate plan is $30 which includes 100 Canada-wide daytime min + unlimited text (CDN + US + Int) + unlimited evenings/weekends + VM/CID.

            Second, even if there is such a plan from Fido and you absolutely refuse to pay that $5 difference, why would you take that plan instead of going with Chatr (assuming that you live within the zones); that same $25 gives you in-zone unlimited incoming, in-zone unlimited outgoing to the same province + 50 text (US + CDN) + CID + VM ($0.25/min directly from cell but free via landline or other numbers).
            There are no data with those plans. My SO had the Chatr service about a year before porting out as she would like some data on her phone and came across with a great deal from Virgin: 400 daytime + unlim. incoming + unlim even/wkend + + unlim. text (CDN + US + Int) + 1GB data for $45 - 10% BYOD = $40.50.
            So while the rates are nowhere close to European countries, you still can get good deals in Canada, as long as you know where to look and jump at the right opportunities.

          • yiweitech

            I'm assuming you're from Vancouver from what you told me, but in Toronto, Fido's cheapest plan was consistently $25 for at least the past 5 years I've used them, but apparently they raised their price very recently. Chatr is $35 for what Fido originally provided for $25, $35 is approaching Rogers/Bell rates. I can't even get a signal from Virgin in my condo in North York (mid-down-ish-town) Believe me, I've looked long and hard for a good provider and the closest I've come is Mobilicity who had half bad service and is now getting bought out by Telus...

          • rgl168

            I'm not from Vancouver but within the GTA, just like you, and I'm also talking about the cheapest plan from various providers in town using the data from their websites as of yesterday (Aug 10 2013).
            I'm aware of Fido's plan and I've never heard of such $25 "roaming starts as soon as you go out of the city" plan - with the exception of CityFido which operates similar to what you have described and CF definitely costs more than $25 and absolutely not 45 min - but rather unlimited in zone.
            I can't speak on behalf of the network coverage around your condo are, but I personally have no issue with either Telus or Virgin in my travels around the GTA.

          • Walkop

            This is old, but what about WIND?

            I pay $25 per month for 5GB of data (then throttled, but theoretically unlimited), unlimited calling, texting, and VM.

          • yiweitech

            And I'm not talking about MY plan, which is a $50 data plan from Fido, I'm taking the cheapest plans from each provider for a fair comparison

        • rgl168

          Wasteland? You probably have never stepped foot in this country. With all due respect, Canada's cell phone networks and handset selections are certainly on par with US; everyone on the street is wielding iPhones, Androids and Blackberrys.

          It's the pricing and contract terms that everyone here is complaining about.

          • CoreRooted

            LOL! Point taken (I've stepped a lot of feet into Canada. LOVE it up there!).

          • lljktechnogeek

            "It's the pricing and contract terms that everyone here is complaining about."

            Hey there, welcome to the joke. We're all glad you could make it.

          • rgl168

            Well I guess you and I have a very different interpretation of the term "wasteland".

          • lljktechnogeek

            I guess you and I have a very different interpretation of the term "language".

          • rgl168

            You are the person that use the term "wasteland", not me.

        • Mike Reid

          GSM is everywhere in Canada, no CDMA lockin.

          I buy my phones from EBay, or any of several B&M retailers, pop in my pre-paid SIM and off I go.

        • http://www.microwav3d.com/ Mihir Garikiparithi

          RoBellUs aren't that bad. they only charge double the amount for half the service as US carriers. not bad at all. ;)

          Yet, Canada managed to become the world's leading nation when it comes to average internet usage per person. (Not talking about bandwidth, but online presence and website traffic)

    • UKROB

      agreed, we have Paypass/Visa NFC payment terminals everywhere here in Canada, why is Google not utilizing this...?

  • Lex_407

    As much as I like Google Wallet, there is little to no support behind it. I mean there is a bunch of places that have NFC but most are locking it down from even being used (even if you use a CC it doesn't work). The carriers pretty much screwed Google Wallet out the way trying to implement their own similar services. Let's see how long Google Wallet will last.

  • PamelaLibrarian

    I refused to whine about Google Reader retiring. But if this is only a step in the direction of Google Wallet NFC payments officially going bye-bye, I will whine and I will whine loud. Because Google dropped the ball on Wallet and this really could've been huge for Android. (Yeah, I know it's really the carriers to blame. But Google should wield their power to fix that.)

    • Ryan Stewart

      Good luck with that. It wasnt just the carriers. No retailers wanted to replace their equipment to acccept it. Until their are readers in most retailers its DOA.

    • Fatty Bunter

      You're going to whine because Google lost out on an opportunity? Awfully loyal.

    • Matt Alexander

      "Wield their power?" How, exactly? Get into a bunch of costly litigation with the carriers they depend on to distribute their phones? I'm as sad as anybody that Wallet is eating it but there wasn't much Google could do about it and at this point it's gotta be pretty taxing for them trying to saw through all this red tape.

      • http://robert.aitchison.org raitchison

        All the carriers officially deny that they are "blocking" wallet,primarily because they knew that if they did officially block wallet it would be a violation of FCC Block C rules.

        Instead they suggest to Google that they not make it available for their users or their carrier branded phones and for some reason Google bends over backwards to accommodate.

        Google could (and should) call the carriers bluff and just release a version of wallet to the play store that works on any NFC capable phone (something the could accomplish _today_) The only way the carriers could take action against Google is if they admit that they are violating Block C rules.

        • UKROB

          agreed, Google should push this out. Make an app available on app store, allow $ transfers to online Google wallet.
          At least in the beginning some retailers will except payments, until it expands, and it will in due time.

  • solbin

    Any word on the Google credit card? Where it is a card that you link all your other credit cards to, and can use an app to switch which card is the current card? I remember reading about it months ago, but haven't heard a peep since then.


    • mgamerz

      That was cancelled months ago.

    • PhilNelwyn

      "[...]haven't heard a peep since then."

      You'd have if you had read the article: "While we've already seen Google cut support for the prepaid Wallet card[...]."

      • Justin W

        The prepaid wallet card was not this card. This is a card that's tied to a physical card, where the Wallet app is used to change the debit/credit card the physical Wallet card charges. Reports showed that it was axed from Google I/O days before the event, but I haven't seen info on it being completely cancelled.

        • solbin

          I understand the functionality.. I just wasn't sure what happened to it.. All I remember reading about it one day and never saw any followup. Thanks for your help though.

          • PhilNelwyn

            No, he was replying to me.
            I actually misread the article, my apologies.

        • PhilNelwyn

          Serves me right!

      • solbin

        I guess I must have missed that story, thanks for clarifying.

  • ItlnStln

    I think one of the pieces missing in this discussion is the retailers. Google actually did try very hard to expand Wallet but ran into several problems:

    1) Retailers didn't want to pay for the interchange fees (which really weren't that bad).
    2) Retailers would rather have their own digital wallets for customer data.
    3) Some retailers fear indirect data aggregation/mining by third parties. Google could start mining specific sales information about a retailer based on transactions using wallet.

    Even if 1 and 2 weren't a concern, third party data mining is a real biggie, especially for private retailers that don't publicly publish sales data. I have a feeling that other attempts at digital wallets will fail equally hard.

    Disclosure: I work in "big data"/customer analytics for a large US retailer.

    • http://www.binarytuberculosis.com BinaryTB

      From what I understand (attended a conference where a panel was about Google Wallet and mobile payments), #1 isn't an issue with retailers in relation to Google. Google doesn't charge any fees to the retailer, the only fees are the current credit card transaction fees that they already pay (Visa, MC, Amex, etc).

      #2 and #3 are probably more on point though.

      • Aaron Jaeger

        The Google Wallet Objects API allows for vendors to access the data that is collected in a console. I think it will be well received.

  • yankeesusa

    The good news about this is that they are working with companies for a better way to use the loyalty program. What I would love is to hear of a new partnership so that their nfc payments become more available. I use it all the time and I love it.

  • Wazzifer

    Oh I'm worried. I'm very worried!

  • Nick

    I worry about Google Wallet's NFC feature and app. I love the functionality... I just wish more than 3 stores accepted NFC payments. If I could pay NFC every where I do my debit card, I would have no need for a wallet 95% of the time.

  • Ahmed El-Saeed Mustafa

    Please Please what is their email my order is on hold and the bank told me that i have to conact google to send the cvc number

  • Raviteja

    That means this will effect my Play Store Balance???..Please someone explain

    • firesoul453


  • yiweitech

    Google wallet is a bit too early for its time... Just watch the iShit next year come out with NFC and every fucklng carrier and retailer adopting NFC payment... This is seriously fraked up

  • kamiller42

    Google Voice... the grim reaper is coming for you neeeexxxxxt.

    • firesoul453

      That would be horrible

  • NathanDrago
  • Bill Bodge

    Just got a message that google is ending it in Nov.

  • John Murphy

    I hate Google wallet. What a childish novelty


    How they haven't managed to launch this, I will never know.. it was a perfect solution, if every terminal excepted payments it would be amazing