Google wants to control your life in yet another way. This time, they're targeting your wallet.
Google Wallet is a new mobile payment system that allows users to keep their credit, debit, and gift card information virtually on their smartphone. Someone who subscribes to Google Wallet (a free service for now) can pay at a store by simply tapping his or her phone against the cash register. This tap-to-pay technology is not new, but Google does have the most convenient, easy-to-use version.
In an effort to broaden their horizons, Google also recently launched an integration of Google Wallet with Gmail, which will allow Gmail users to quickly and easily send money through email. Banks have attempted this before, but Google's massive number of Gmail users is a huge advantage, not to mention that Google hopes that this will also increase the number of people using Google Wallet in general.
For Google, this looks like a great investment. Not only is Google Wallet a legitimate threat to online payment giant PayPal, but the transition it proposes seems natural. After all, even just a decade or two ago, carrying cash in your wallet was far more common than it is today. The advancement in technology from cash to credit card would mirror the advance from credit card to mobile payments.
But their problem is that millennials just aren't getting on board.
Millennials are Google's primary market for two reasons: First, they are far more likely to adopt new technology, and they are also the ones who will stick with it into the future, so they're a highly coveted audience. Second, they're also the group with the fastest-growing number of smartphone users, which is crucial to using Google Wallet.
Ironically, though Google targeted this audience for its flexibility in technology, millennials' biggest fear with Google Wallet and other similar mobile payment devices is the threat of hacking or security issues – a survey found that only 17% of people said they would use a mobile payment system.
Google has been attempting to assuage those fears. They are currently offering insurance plans to cover 100% of the costs of potential unauthorized payments, and Google officials are taking pains to emphasize that the service is highly secure.
Still, Google Wallet will not survive unless it manages to attract millennials, and it cannot do that without a bigger and better demonstration that their system not only works, but also works well. As for me, I like Google's vision of a world where people only ever need their smartphones, but I just don't think that world is starting today.