Google has scrapped and rebuilt pieces of its mobile wallet many times, and it looks like those years of tinkering are paying off as more merchants adopt Google Wallet.
"We expect that adding an optimized payment service like Google Wallet will increase mobile conversion by reducing friction at the time of checkout," said Louis Kearns, product director of merchant services at Shopify, a dose of praise for Google Wallet that was in short supply in years past.
The earlier criticism touched on availability of the wallet, security and user experienceissues that dogged Google Wallet pretty much since its start in 2011. At one time or another, Google has tackled security issues, rewritten its onboarding process for banks and jettisoned features that weren't working. More recently, Google purchased technology from the telcos behind the now-defunct Softcard wallet, also reaching an agreement to get Google Wallet pre-installed on Android phones sold by AT&T, Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile.
The barrage of updates has improved usability enough to attract Shopify, which builds online commerce interfaces for other merchants.
"Most traffic to online stores now comes from smartphones and tablets," Kearns said, adding the problem is many of these shoppers don't end up checking out from their mobile device. "This can lead to abandoned shopping carts and less orders. That is one of the reasons we've been working closely with Google to build and integrate Google Wallet within Shopify."
Because Google generates and passes through one-time-use account numbers on checkout, payments remain secure as transactions are processed through the merchant's existing payment gateway, Kearns said.
Shopify is currently using Google Wallet for online, mobile and other card not present transactions, and is developing an Near Field Communication (NFC) option for point of sale payments. The company did not reveal plans for Samsung Pay or Apple Pay, though it said it is open to working with other mobile wallets.
Google, which would not comment for this article, has also diversified its payment strategy, developing bill payment and presentment for Gmail. It also hired Ruth Porat, a former Morgan Stanley payments executive, to be the search giant's chief financial officer.
"Google is well positioned to be the way that consumers pay from Android devices," said Rick Oglesby, a senior analyst and consultant at Double Diamond Payments Research. "It still has very long way to go, but there is a big opportunity here for Google to displace PayPal volume as well as volume from other online payment providers."
Much of Google Wallet's most recent updates were designed to accommodate the impact of Apple Pay and the pending introduction of Samsung Pay. While Google has taken steps to attract merchants and banks, Apple has quickly added hundreds of banks in a few months. Samsung's mobile payment technology, which does not rely exclusively on NFC, will work with most merchant point of sale terminals. Samsung owns technology that can wirelessly simulate the signal of a swiped plastic card.
"For in-store payments, both Google and Apple Pay have the same acceptance, as they both rely on NFC, but Samsung is expected to have a leg up with its [technology] in the U.S.," said Zil Bareisis, a senior analyst at Celent.