New Google Wallet app stores boarding passes, credit cards

Google Wallet will replace Google Pay for storing everything from boarding passes and event tickets to loyalty cards and car keys.

By Bloomberg News, May 12 2022
New Google Wallet app stores boarding passes, credit cards

Google will release a new digital wallet app to replace Google Pay in most countries around the world.

The new Google Wallet will let people store credit and debit cards, transit and event tickets, airline boarding passes, loyalty and gift cards and health and vaccination records, along with virtual car keys and digital ID cards.

It will also integrate with other Google apps: for example, when you add a transit card to Wallet, your card and balance will automatically show up in Google Maps when you search for directions.

Consumers in the USA, Singapore and India will have access to both apps, with Pay used for financial management and transferring money to friends or family – but in the rest of the world the Wallet app will replace Pay, Google said at its annual Google I/O developer conference Wednesday, where the company also revealed its first Pixel Watch along with the Pixel 7 smartphones, and teased a new Pixel tablet.

“As things have digitized so quickly, it became very clear that you’re moving beyond just the payments context, and so we need to give users a dedicated home for that,” Bill Ready, Google’s president of commerce, said in an interview.

“Mobile drivers’ licenses, car keys, those are well beyond just payment use cases.” 

Google debuted its payment app in 2015 and revamped it in late 2020 as a hub for consumers to track expenses and hunt for discounts. The company said at the time the app had 150 million monthly active users globally. But Google faces tough competition from Apple as well as its own partners on Android devices, such as Samsung.

With Ready, who joined the technology giant in 2020, Google has been shaking up its approach to payments. In October, for instance, the company shelved a years-long plan to debut a digital checking and savings service for the Pay app that it had already lined up nearly a dozen banking partners for.

Separately, Google announced a change to its Chrome browser that will allow users to turn any credit and debit cards they have saved with Chrome’s auto-fill feature into a virtual card. That means they won’t have to hunt down the extra security code on the back of their cards when paying online.

Ready, who spent eight years at PayPal, said Google isn’t charging users for the changes to its apps. Instead, he said, the aim is to boost use of the company’s myriad apps and services. 

“We don’t need to monetize on the payments,” Ready said. “We’re not charging for this, but we believe it has the potential to be quite beneficial to the advancement of the free and open web, and we see that comes back and pays dividends for the ecosystem.”

Additional reporting by David Flynn