Square COO Keith Rabois has no doubt that Google’s retail payment system, Wallet, will make inroads with businesses.
The question is: will consumers do anything about it?
Wallet uses NFC (near-field communication) chips in cell phones to accept payments. But Rabois says that consumers and merchants don’t even know what NFC is — and don’t really care.
As he put it:
“Google has a relationship with most of the top 100 retailers, almost all advertise with Google. Clearly they can add value to those merchants. So can they take advantage of that channel and relationship? Sure. Will consumers interrupt their lives to use it? That remains to be seen.”
For the time being, Google Wallet only works on one phone, the Sprint Nexus S 4G. But even if that changes over the next five years, consumers are accustomed to using their credit cards and don’t see any big problems with that system today. Taking the few minutes to sign up for some new kind of payment system just so they can use it from their phone is an unlikely prospect.
It’s sort of like PayPal, where Rabois was an exec a decade ago. “People don’t wake up and say ‘I want to pay with PayPal.'”
Rabois also said that Square would have two major releases in October, focusing mainly on helping merchants accept payments more easily (rather than on the consumer side), and said that he doesn’t think of Square as a mobile payment company. “The fact that people have mobile devices enables us to do some things. But 35% of our users never use mobile functionality, they just have a station and use Square to accept payment.”
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