Friday, December 25, 2015

The phrase "don’t throw the baby out with the bath water" is an American idiom derived from a German proverb. It’s used to suggest caution when attempting to eliminate something bad, so something good is not also eliminated in the process.

A cliché it may be, but a valuable one Google must have been pondering while determining the future of its money transfer app, Google Wallet, which debuted almost 5 years ago.

New Twist to Wallet

The Wallet app could have easily been dismissed after Android Pay became the champion of digital payment service for Google. However, and this is where the baby comes in, it appears Google isn’t done with Wallet after all.

Instead of competing side-by-side with Android Pay, Wallet has been reconfigured to handle specific transactions. In particular, Wallet has been updated to no longer support NFC payments, but instead works primarily with peer-to-peer transactions, leaving Android Pay to handle consumer-to-business payment needs.

All a user has to do is select a Google contact to send payment to. The recipient then receives a text message on their phone containing a secure link, which will then prompt them to receive payment. The recipient enters their debit card to claim the cash, and it appears in their account within minutes—that’s right, minutes.

The best part is that Wallet works on both Apple and Android operating systems, which is great for Apple users who don’t yet have a similar money transfer app available.

Improvements and Caution

Google has made several updates and modifications to the app to improve the users experience and gained valuable feedback in the process. To date, the app now includes improved contact recognition—the people you send money to most frequently will appear at the top when you begin to type their name; the ability to add a second bank account and lock button feature.

These improvements mean the baby is well on it’s way to adolescence, which may ruffle a few feathers in the online payment service industry. PayPal, for instance, will have to take steps to secure its user base or come up with a similar payment app to help reduce the pressure Google just tacked on.

Apple may also need to step up their proverbial game, in an effort to reclaim app users with an update to their current Apple Pay, which does not yet allow for peer-to-peer text payment.

The baby is out of the bath, but I suspect there may be serious security issues with this app down the road. SMS scams are a frequent problem among smartphone users and recreating a false security link could be an easy point of entry for online criminals. Users should be vigilant in these early stages of app development and practice a bit of caution.