Google is known for products with confusing names, and that might be the case with Google Wallet and Google Pay. Both of these apps followed a tortuous path to get to where they are today. Which should you use?
Both Google Wallet and Google Pay have undergone quite drastic changes over the years. Their goals have changed a lot and confused many people’s minds. Let’s take a look at what each has to offer.
A complicated story
You may be surprised to learn that the original version of Google Wallet was introduced in 2011. The service was mainly used to send people money and there was also a Google Wallet physical credit card.
The Google Wallet card allowed people to pay for items in physical and online stores with funds from their account. This was before mobile payments with tap-to-pay were widely supported. The Wallet card was a very smart solution.
Eventually, tap-to-pay gained enough traction that Google launched Android Pay in 2015. It kept Google Wallet and Android Pay separate until 2018, when the two were combined into a single service called “ Google Pay. »
Check your phone: Google Pay is now Google Wallet
The Wallet card was discontinued in 2016.
Then, in 2020, Google Pay got a massive overhaul with a bunch of new features. All of Google’s mobile payment services were under one roof…for a while. In the summer of 2022, the service was split in two, and the Google Wallet brand returned.
That’s where things stand in September 2022. Google Pay and Google Wallet exist as two separate products, sometimes. We will come back to this later.
What is Google Wallet?
Google Wallet is most easily summed up in its name: it’s a digital wallet. You can add credit cards, debit cards, loyalty cards, travel passes, event tickets, vaccination cards, and gift cards.
Basically, Google Wallet allows you to pay for purchases online and in physical stores thanks to the “tap-to-pay” function. It has a very simple interface that displays your cards, tickets and passes. Google Wallet is only available on Android, iPhone does not allow non-Apple apps for card payment.
Google Wallet can generally be used with any card reader that has an Apple Wallet, Google Pay, or contactless tap-to-pay icon. For online purchases, look for the Google Pay or Google Wallet buttons at checkout. It will be some time before the Wallet brand replaces Google Pay.
What is Google Pay?
Google Pay got a massive overhaul in 2020, and the experience is much the same today. Tap-to-pay functionality is still present in Google Pay, but that’s not the only thing it can do.
The Google Pay app offers peer-to-peer payments, shopping offers, cashback offers, and a comprehensive banking experience with personal finance insights. You can think of Google Pay as a combination of services similar to Venmo, PayPal, RetailMeNot, and Mint.
Unlike Google Wallet, Google Pay is available on both Android and iPhone. Tap-to-pay functionality does not work on iPhone, but other functions are available. This is a feature-rich app that tries to do a lot. In fact, it might be too much for some people, which explains the existence of Google Wallet.
Which app to use?
Depending on where you live, you might not even need to decide which app to use. Google Pay and Google Wallet only exist side by side in the United States and Singapore. In all other countries, Google Wallet has entirely replaced Google Pay, and India has no Wallet at all (as of September 2022).
Google Pay can do everything Google Wallet can do, but Google Wallet can’t do everything Google Pay can do. If you are in a country that has both, you can choose between the full experience (Pay) or only mobile payments (Wallet). There is no reason to have both.
Use Google Pay if you want peer-to-peer payments, offers and rewards, or personal finance tools. If you’re only interested in mobile payments, Google Wallet is a much more streamlined experience for that. The choice is even simpler for iPhone users: Google Pay is the only option.
In conclusion, Google Wallet is for mobile payments, Google Pay is for mobile payments and more. It’s not as complicated as you might think, but Google certainly isn’t helping its case.