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Google Wallet Pivots–And Turns Into Venmo

Google Wallet Pivots–And Turns Into Venmo
[Photo: Flickr user 401(K) 2012/401kcalculator.org]

Google Wallet, the company’s NFC payment option that competes with Apple Pay and more conventional rivals like Paypal, is getting a facelift. As reported back in March, the tech giant is splitting its NFC payment capability into a new app called Android Pay–which means Google Wallet now looks a lot like Venmo.

The new Google Wallet, which launched this week, is a peer-to-peer payments app that has just one feature: the ability to send money to a Google account from your debit card, bank account, or Google Wallet balance. This functionality was previously offered in the Google Wallet app, but it will not be available in the Android Pay app which debuted this week.

Is this a sign that Google Wallet is being phased out? Likely not, given that the company took the effort to create a new app from scratch. (The old Google Wallet app will soon be updated to become Android Pay.) But it isn’t clear why anyone who currently uses Venmo–or even Square Cash–would make the jump to Google Wallet. And those who flocked to the app for its NFC capabilities will now turn to Android Pay.

Google’s move is reminiscent of when Foursquare shifted its check-in functionality into a separate app, Swarm, in the hopes of retooling its flagship app to focus on Yelp-style reviews and recommendations. But a large chunk of Foursquare’s user base didn’t make the leap to Swarm; the app also lost some of its appeal by nixing badges and mayorships, which rewarded users for checking into a favorite haunt repeatedly.

[via Ars Technica]

Update: This article has been updated to reflect Android Pay’s release.NU