Using near field communication (NFC) and cloud technology, Google Wallet allows people to make fast, secure payments by tapping their phone on any NFC point-of-sale terminal (i.e. Mastercard PayPass and Visa payWave) upon checkout. Online, users can use their Google Wallet account when a "Google Wallet Buy" button is present on merchant websites.
In addition to storing credit information, Google Wallet allows users to keep loyalty cards and gift cards on their mobile phone and redeem sales promotions using the application. All credit and debit cards are stored on secure Google servers with the following security components:
- Lock capabilities: On a smartphone, a 4-digit Google Wallet personal identification number (PIN) prevents unauthorized access to credit card information. Online, Google has multiple layers of password protection to help create a defense against cybercriminals or credit fraud.
- Remote control: Google Wallet accounts can be remotely disabled in the event of smartphone loss. Individual cards will still work, but Google Wallet purchases via mobile phone will be disabled.
- Encryption: Credit and debit cards stored in Google Wallet are encrypted on Google's secure servers in a secure location. When users pay in-store, Google pays the merchant and then processes the transaction with the user's selected credit or debit card. This safeguards payment card information from both the merchants and Android OS.
- Hidden account numbers: The Google Wallet app keeps payment card account numbers hidden. When cards appear on a user's phone screen in-store, the numbers are not visible. Online, only the last 4-digits are visible during a purchase.
Since its release in September 2011, the Google Wallet app has been made available to major Samsung, LG and HTC Android devices.