Google Pay becomes Google Wallet (again) in global rebranding with expanded digital item support

Google services come and go, especially at Google I / O, and Google absolutely loves to rename these services in a quick bid to bring fresh eyes and potentially reel in new users. Wear OS gets a new name about every two years, and both Google’s chat apps and payment services seem to rebrand and re-arrange themselves even more frequently. The most recent rebrand moved users from the old Google Pay app to a newer GPay app, a rebranded version of the India-only Tez mobile payments app, but get ready to change names again.

Starting this summer, we Americans will have two Google apps for payments while Google migrates most of Google Pay’s current countries over to a new Google Wallet app, which will support far more than just credit cards, debit cards, and some shopping rewards programs. The redesigned service will provide support for vaccine cards, digital IDs, event tickets, digital car keys, and more passes and transit cards.

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In 42 countries where Google Pay is the primary Google payments app, the app will automatically be updated and replaced by Google Wallet on both Android and Wear OS. However, in the United States and Singapore, we will get both apps, meaning you’ll need to download a new Google Wallet app to take advantage of the new supported items. And India is not getting a rebrand at all: Google Pay will continue to be the only app they see and use for digital payments and wallets.

Is that all convoluted and confusing? Yes, but the newly supported digital items – and the ones still on the way – should excite most users after years of fragmentation and lackluster support for digital passes, cards, and more.


What digital items will Google Wallet support?

  • Payment cards
  • Boarding passes / transit cards
  • Loyalty cards
  • Event tickets
  • Car keys
  • Student IDs
  • Vaccine cards
  • Mobile driver’s licenses (later this year)
  • Hotel keys (coming soon)
  • Office badges (coming soon)

The current Google Pay has thus far only really supported the first three categories, and even then, the support for loyalty cards and boarding passes wasn’t exactly universal. Of course, support for most of these digital item types is still contingent upon the issuer, but Google is expanding its APIs in an effort to step up that support.

Google also told Android Police that there would be a mechanism for users to add some items to their Google Wallet even if they’re not directly supported by the issuer itself. I sincerely hope this is the case for items like COVID vaccine cards, as current support is a patchy quagmire.

Speaking of COVID vaccine cards, which have sensitive information on them, Google Wallet is adding more granular controls for how and where your digital items are stored. For instance, you can set your vaccine card to only be stored locally on your phone rather than synced with Google.

For mobile driver’s licenses and government identification, Google is working with multiple states and international partners to bring support for these items. Given digital IDs are still work-in-progress for many regions, this might take a while, but Google says support for them will begin to arrive later in 2022.

What happens to Google Pay on your wrist?

Wear OS users likely felt a little pit in their stomach form at the words “new app” for Google Wallet, but for most markets, the app will update on the watch the same as it does on your phone. In the United States, the current Google Pay app is sticking around, so we should be able to keep using the current app without issue. We specifically asked about Wear OS support can be told, “Wallet will be available on Wear OS devices that have NFC, and will be available wherever Google Wallet is launching.”

The last time we migrated Google Pay apps, tap-to-pay on Wear OS was lost for thousands of users for months, but Google seems to be keeping Wear support in mind this time around. Google told us that its long-term goal is for feature parity on your watch and phone. Unfortunately, for the moment, Google Wallet on Wear OS will still only work with credit and debit cards, as Google has no roadmap or timeline to share for when these features might arrive on your wrist.

Google says it is currently working to bring passes to Google Wallet for Wear OS. The moment it arrives, I will be shouting from the rooftops that I can finally put my Walt Disney World Annual Pass on my watch instead of pulling out my phone every single time.

Google Pay adds virtual card numbers for Autofill on Chrome

While Google Wallet is now the main app for all your digital items, Google Pay is still the actual payments service, and it’s getting a security-minded upgrade for your online shopping. Virtual card numbers are coming to Google Pay this summer in partnership with Visa, American Express, and Capital One (with Mastercard coming later this year), allowing you to tokenize your transactions as well as avoiding having to enter your CVV (Card Verification Value) each and every time you pay for something online.

These virtual card numbers will help simplify your online shopping experience without compromising security, keeping your actual card number from being exposed or compromised without bogging down your digital retail therapy binge. Google Pay’s virtual cards will integrate with Autofill on the Google Chrome browser on both desktop and mobile when it arrives this summer.


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