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Google Wallet, RIP?

By Robert McGarvey

NEW YORK ( MainStreet)--The drumbeats announcing death are getting louder around Google Wallet, at least as regards its use at point of sale via smartphones. Multiple sources are predicting it will be "quietly" killed off.

The smoking gun that triggered the whispers was the May 8 ouster of Osama Bedier, the chief architect of the Wallet and its public face.

With Bedier out on the street, the word is that Google (GOOG) is pulling the plug on its point of sale edition of the wallet. Probably, guess several experts, Google will retain Google Wallet as an online buying tool (à la PayPal), and the company also recently announced integration of Google Wallet as a person to person payment tool inside Gmail (where money can be "attached" to an email).

Also see: NFC Is Dead, Long Live NFC

Emailing from the Google I/O conference last week, John Haro, CTO at mobile marketing company Vibes, said that there was important if indirect news about Wallet's future revealed at the conference. He elaborated: "Google's announcement about Wallet Objects APIs for offers and loyalty cards represents the first real expansion for Google into the non-payment areas of the digital wallet. The new technology aims to solve consumer convenience problems of managing paper coupons and loyalty cards in a way similar - at least on the surface - to Apple's Passbook."

That means Wallet is morphing into a kind of Passbook -- which if course lacks point of sale transaction tools -- and this, apparently, has consequences for the experiment at retail, where Google had hoped its Wallet would utilize Near Field Communication (NFC) purchases at merchants. (At filing time, Google had not responded to a request for comment.)

"There's no doubt in my mind they will kill this," said a senior analyst with a highly regarded technology research firm. He requested anonymity, because he was not authorized by his firm to speak on Google Wallet.

Also see: Why The Glacial Adoption of the Mobile Wallet?

"This space is immature," he elaborated. "Google has the resources to step back and sit this out. Three years from now, when mobile wallets at point of sale have matured as a category, they probably will buy their way into a front row seat with an acquisition."

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