- Google is upgrading its digital wallet to add capabilities that create more use cases for consumers to dig into it, including letting them use the smartphone app to hold health insurance card information, the company said in a blog post Thursday. The tech giant is teaming with U.S. healthcare insurer Humana to develop that feature.
- The upgraded wallet is also adding state identification options, with Maryland allowing that function as of Thursday and Georgia, Arizona and Colorado following in its footsteps in the “coming months,” Google said.
- Google also aims to provide an option to let wallet users upload corporate badges so they have access to their buildings and other spaces. It’s testing that feature now at Google’s own facilities, said Dong Min Kim, who is director of product management at Google Wallet.
Many of the new features aren’t available yet, though Google expects them to be later this year. The company launched its wallet in 39 markets around the world last year and since then it has expanded into 25 more markets, Kim said.
“A lot of our focus in the last year has been, in addition to continuing to drive our core payments experience, looking at some of the adjacent experiences to really help them realize that vision of leaving your wallet and keys at home,” Kim said in an interview Tuesday.
Google is taking on other technology and payments behemoths, including Apple, Amazon and PayPal, that have also been vying to develop and enhance digital wallets on smartphones to draw consumers to their app ecosystems. PayPal touted efforts to add more wallet applications over the past couple of years, and Apple bulked up its wallet with more payments services, including adding buy now, pay later options earlier this year.
In Google’s wallet upgrade, the health insurance card capability will come with additional security features that distinguish it from the other types of “cards” consumers might have in their wallet, such as those for a fitness gym or loyalty club. In addition to the connection to Humana, Google also seeks to let users in the United Kingdom add their government-issued national insurance number to the wallet.
Google is also adding a feature that will let users access airline boarding pass information or train tickets from their messaging app, though that feature will initially only be available for Vietnam Airlines. Google is in talks with other carriers about adopting the option, Kim said. It’s also working with a Spanish rail operator, Renfe, on linking tickets to the wallet.
Finally, Google is also working on allowing users to take a picture of membership cards, refund cards or any other cards that have a barcode or QR code, so that they can store those credentials in the Google wallet. That feature will be available “soon,” the company said.
Given the sensitive nature of some of the information being added, Google is also mulling ways to supplement its existing security features, which already include encryption and one-time passwords. For instance, it’s considering giving the wallet user the option to select a different mode for security when taking the phone out on the street, Kim said.