Debate on Google Wallet: Scary, Next Best Thing, Or Just A Social Experiment?

  Written by on October 26, 2011

So…what about Google Wallet?  Is it creepy or cool? Is it the logical next step in the mobile march for dominance in the world of marketing, or is it just too far over the Google-wants-to-own-me line? We’re all comfortable with fun and useful mobile apps that give directions, tell us where to eat, shop, train for a marathon or count our calories.  We can be served all the information, ads, coupons and suggestions our battery will allow.  Now, with Google in our wallet, we can just give it over completely and surrender our personal and financial profiles to the internet giant. Really?

The recent video of the Google Bots (aka employees) filtering into stores wearing Google T-shirts and paying for customer purchases suggests a world of consumer ease…one tap shopping for everything from sodas to clothing. Too good to be true? It looks sort of like some strange sort of college sociology class doing an end of semester social experiment.

The question is…will consumers go for it?  Of course they will…it’s inevitable.

Not So Fast, Google!

Google is just getting started with Google Wallet, and they’re predicting astronomical growth for this product. They aren’t there yet, but it’s likely that growth will continue as more vendors and financial institutions get on board.  Barring any unforeseen security nightmares or weird consumer uprising against the G-machine, convenience will most certainly win out.  But honestly…has anyone thought about the ramifications of a completely virtual economy? Will our phones become the new currency, and buying stock in batteries the new trend in investment portfolios?

The rapid-fire move toward a virtual economy is on, and mobile marketing expertise is on cutting edge. Yet there is a certain feeling of security in putting our hands right on our individual financial and personal  identification tools at any given moment.  What are the implications of handing over my entire world to the sketchy looking guy behind the mini-mart counter? I think not.  Besides…NFC hasn’t yet been proven to be infallible.  As fast as security technology is updated, thieves update their skills to match.  Remember, there was a time when Maxwell Smart’s shoe phone was just a joke. Hm….

Let’s leap over the boundaries of common sense for just a moment and try to imagine the new face of identity theft. Maybe it’s some guy standing at the entrance to a shopping mall with a device that scans and reads your phone data. Maybe that same guy instead works directly for the company that makes the checkout and scanning equipment for the retailers. Or – horror of horrors – maybe he works for the corporation that makes the app. Of course no technology is 100% free of security risks, but this is on a different level entirely.

Doin’ The Google Wallet Wave…

Waving or tapping our phone to pay for merchandise may just be a little too easy for our own good.   How many times in the past have you  gone to purchase something, only to think better of it as you gazed at your thinning wallet in the store aisle?  A grown-up consumer who has had multiple home mortgages, car loans, personal, business and student loans know that experience is the best teacher when it comes to how we should spend our money. Careful. Thoughtful.  Deliberate. Somehow the temptation to pull that baby out and wave it like a magic wand makes the whole transaction seem….well…frivolous.  Doesn’t matter if “there’s an app for that”. For a college student or young adult?  S-C-A-R-Y.

If It Ain’t Broke…

Since man made fire (and by “man” I speak figuratively)– or at least since we started wearing pants (figuratively again) – we have  kept our  stones, seeds, coins or whatever form of currency  we are using – close to us. In a drawstring bag, perhaps, or a leather satchel, wallet or purse.  Paper money made life easier, as did the invention of the credit card and – saints be praised – the ATM card.  A need for touch is a human trait, even when it comes to our money. Why?  No matter how much or how little we have, it’s personal.

 All Your Eggs In One Basket…

Didn’t your mother ever say, “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket”?  Sage advice, indeed. But you may argue that we do so now…everything we own is in our wallets and our purses.  That may be true, but that one basket represents a lifelong learning curve and a wealth of real-life experiences. Maybe it contains the first dollar we ever earned, pictures of our kids, a note from a long lost lover or a handwritten phone number or other digit we never want to be without.

Losing it can be devastating, but there may actually be long-term benefits to losing your wallet.  Granted, it’s a pain like no other. You have to get a new driver’s license, credit card, library card, etc. And that special photo…oh no!  Painful, yes. But shouldn’t everyone have that experience at least once? That dawning feeling of horror as you realize they can’t find it anywhere?  The fact is, the ensuing steps required to replace it include patience, planning, organization and the irreplaceable feeling of a lesson learned.

And, sadly, it could be that by this time next year, you’ll have no ideas what to give Dad for Father’s Day.

Posted Under: General Business, Mobile Marketing
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