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Pay By Phone: Google Wallet in Action


The day when you can leave your wallet at home and pay for everything via smartphone is inching closer — and it looks pretty cool.

At a MasterCard demo Thursday, we got to play with a new Sprint Nexus S loaded with Google Wallet, as well as a few other new and soon-to-debut MasterCard apps to help consumers better manage spending via their phone. (See the photo play-by-play below.) Buying a Coke or cappuccino took seconds — enter a four-digit PIN to activate Google Wallet, tap the phone against the MasterCard PayPass sensor and — presto! — payment sent. It didn’t hurt that the futuristic vending machine also had a touch-screen that played animated ads.

Execs said the technology will be available “soon,” but as we reported back in May, it will still be a few years before you can leave your wallet at home. But with the right phone, you can still play early adopter for at least a few purchases as soon as this fall.

Consumers might find MasterCard’s InControl app, also available later this year, more useful. The app lets you set spending and security controls on your credit cards (attached to Google Wallet or not), with text message alerts when say, you go over budget or the card is used internationally. The company also showed off its app for “Priceless New York,” already available online, which lets cardholders access exclusive deals such as visiting FAO Schwartz during pre-opening hours. Deals for other cities are in the works.

Here’s a look at Google Wallet in action:

The app automatically sets a default payment method, here, a MasterCard. It has a $100 limit per mobile purchase…

…Tap, and payment is confirmed…

…Spending and security controls for the InControl app. MasterCard has us on a tight $2 leash. You’ll get a text for each action…

… We bought a cappuccino at a Canadian PayPass terminal, triggering the security alert.


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About Pay Dirt

  • Pay Dirt examines the millions of consumer decisions Americans make every day: What to buy, how much to pay, whether to rave or complain. Lead written by Quentin Fottrell, the blog examines these interactions, providing readers with news, insight and tips on shopping, spending, customer service, and companies that do right – and wrong – by their customers. Send items, questions and comments to or tweet @SMPayDirt.