Google Wallet, which faces pressure to stay relevant after the launch of Apple Pay, has added recurring bank transfers and alerts to rekindle consumer demand for mobile payments on non-Apple devices.
An update released this week allows Google Wallet users to activate automatic bank transfers, picking the amount to add to the wallet and the time frame. The update also enables alerts to tell the user when the Google Wallet account is almost out of money.
The move is similar to BBVA's strategy to stay fresh in its consumers' minds as Apple Pay creates a surge of fresh competition on users' handsets. BBVA's Android app, which it is porting to iPhones, relies on alerts and account-management features to keep users engaged. By adding features like these to Google Wallet, Google can encourage more of its customers to use its wallet app on a recurring basis.
Apple's current mobile payments model treats all cards equally but picks the first card enrolled in Apple Pay as the default payment option. It does not include a built-in offer system or any means to guide users to the best card for a particular purchase based on rewards, available balance or other factors.
Apple's no-frills approach leaves room for other players to differentiate through value-added services, said Thiago Olson, CEO of Stratos Card, a mobile payments technology company.
"Apple is doing the typical Apple thing, which is to create the environment and be the vehicle for payments," Olson said. "So you may see more of these features offered by the competitors to be more robust."
There's also room for a robust multi-service wallet play on the Android side, Olson said. "There needs to be an Android solution. That is where [Google] has a chance to step up and shine."
Google and Apple did not return requests for comment by deadline.
Google Wallet is also a casualty in the Merchant Customer Exchange's war on Apple Pay. CVS and Rite Aid, which are MCX merchants, blocked Apple Pay by shutting off their terminals' ability to handle Near Field Communication payments. In the process, these companies blocked all other NFC wallets, including Google Wallet.
If Google's updates to its wallet app create fresh consumer demand, those consumers could pressure merchants to accept Google Wallet again. Google, which has struggled to attract merchants, has shown a willingness to quickly update and change its mobile payments strategy to respond to the needs of issuers, merchants and consumers.
The Google wallet app's updates are available for both iOS and Android for browser-based payments. For contactless payments, the updates are available only for phones that run the "KitKat" version of the Android operating system or the upcoming "Lollipop" version.