Google Pay vs Google Wallet: What’s the difference? -CNET | Hot Mobile Press

Google Wallet is back.

This was announced by the tech giant Google Wallet for Android at its I/O 2022 developer conference in May and described it as an online wallet for your payment cards, boarding passes, electronic car keys and more. If you’re an Android user, you should see the brand new Google Wallet app, now available for download.

Continue reading: According to the report, Google’s new wallet app is available worldwide

However, Google Wallet has been around in various iterations for over a decade, and as such you might have some questions.

Replaces Google Wallet Google Pay? Will Google Pay survive? And what is the difference between the two services?

Here’s everything you need to know about the history of Google Wallet, what it means for your contactless payments, and what kind of info you can use alongside credit cards in this new installment of Google Wallet.


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This isn’t the first time Google Wallet has existed

Google originally launched Google Wallet in 2011 as the first mobile payment service app that allows Android users to compare their supported phones with readers in select stores to make payments.

This first iteration of Google Wallet was very restrictive. It only worked on the Nexus phone and required users to sign up for a Citi MasterCard account or purchase a Google prepaid card to make payments. It was a hassle to use as you had to open the app and enter a PIN to access your cards. About four years later, Google Wallet was replaced by Android Pay.

Google Wallet makes a payment.

Google Wallet was first released in 2011.

CNET/Marguerite Reardon

Android Pay eventually replaced Google Wallet

Android Pay was released during Google I/O in 2015 as a replacement for Google Wallet. The new service allowed Android users to make contactless payments through their phones, which is exactly what Google Wallet was doing. So why create Android Pay?

In short: it was easier to use. Unlike Google Wallet, Android Pay didn’t require you to download an additional app because it was built-in. So all you had to do was unlock your phone and hold it up to a terminal to make a payment.

It also came after Apple Pay and contactless payments debuted in 2014 on the iPhone 6, which may have given Google even more reason to tout that Android phones already have tap-to-pay capabilities.

Using Android Pay to make a payment.

Google Wallet was replaced by Android Pay in 2015.

James Martin/CNET

And then Google Wallet tried to become PayPal

Although Android Pay replaced Google Wallet for contactless payments, the latter brand continued to exist as peer-to-peer payment service à la PayPal, Venmo and Cash App. All you had to do to send money to friends and family was enter a linked email address or phone number.

If you were the one receiving money, you could withdraw the money directly into your bank account or use a Google Wallet card to make in-store payments or withdraw cash from an ATM. The Google Wallet card was eventually discontinued; Google Wallet has been merged with Android Pay.


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Google Wallet + Android Pay = Google Pay

In 2018, Google announced a merger between Google Wallet and Android Pay, Creating Google Pay. You’re probably most familiar with this service if you regularly use an Android phone for contactless purchases. Google Pay has inherited features of both services: contactless payments in stores and peer-to-peer payments online in a single app.

Google Pay eventually took over the role of the primary “wallet” for Android users, becoming a hub for airline passes, transit tickets, event tickets, gym memberships, gift cards, and more. It also replaced Chrome’s autofill feature, allowing Android users to use Google Pay for online purchases.

Google Pay on mobile.

Google Wallet and Android Pay eventually became Google Pay.

Taylor Martin/CNET

There was also something called Google Pay Send

Although Google Wallet and Android Pay merged, it took a few months for peer-to-peer payment capabilities to migrate to Google Pay, so Google redesigned Google Wallet into Google Pay Send to send and receive payments online.

Google discontinued Google Pay Send in 2020 as the online payment feature eventually migrated to Google Pay.

Google Pay was then discontinued and newly designed

Google had tested a redesigned version of Google Pay in India, known as Google Tez. This new version of Google Pay offered several new features such as in-app messaging, personalized offers, transaction history, receipt scanning and much more. It also started charging small percentage fees for debit card transfers.

Eventually, this version of Google Pay appeared as a new app on the Google Play Store, while the older version of Google Pay stayed as well. In April 2021, Google retired the old version of Google Pay in the US.

And now Google Wallet is back

During Google I/O 2022 Google announced the return of Google Wallet for Android and Wear OS, which, similar to Google Pay, allows you to store debit and credit cards, airline passes, event tickets, vaccination cards and, more recently, digital ID cards and driver’s licenses.

Screenshot from Google I/O May 2022 presentation

Google Wallet was announced at Google I/O 2022.

Screenshot/Google

If I’m in the US, which service should I use?

Google Wallet fully replaces Google Pay in 39 countries including Mexico, Japan, Australia, Hong Kong and France via update.

If you’re in the US or Singapore, Google Wallet is now the primary Android payment service and wallet to store your hotel keys, driver’s licenses, boarding passes and more and make contactless payments. Google Pay will remain, but only as a service to send payments to friends and family.

Finally, users in India are not receiving a Google Wallet update and instead continue to use Google Pay as their daily digital wallet.

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