On Tuesday, Google Wallet, a redesigned digital wallet for Android devices that supports contactless payments and can be used to store a variety of other passes, was officially launched in South Africa.

Over the last decade, Google’s digital wallet platform has undergone numerous changes and brand names, with the most recent iteration of the payment-processing app announced in May. The new and improved Google Wallet is integrated with Google Pay, the tech giant’s mobile payments service that allows for contactless purchases both online and in-store.

Payment cards are added to Google Wallet, which can then be used to tap to pay wherever Google Pay is accepted or with NFC-enabled devices. According to the developer, using Google Wallet for contactless in-store payments and online purchases in South Africa is supported.

“The goal [of Google Wallet] is to provide fast and secure access to all of your everyday essentials,” said Dong Min Kim, product manager for Google Wallet, during a media briefing prior to the official launch in South Africa.

In the future, you should be able to leave your house and take all of the things you normally carry in your pocket, such as keys, IDs, and so on, and store it all on your phone and access it seamlessly on the Android device.”

Google Wallet processes a payment token that must be authorised by a fingerprint, face, or pin, with an emphasis on user security and fraud mitigation.

“It’s actually better and safer than carrying around your physical card,” Kim explained.

“Because we use industry-standard tokenization, the actual 15-digit number is stored on your device.” Another thing to keep in mind is that you must set up a device unlock every time you use this tap and pay service… If your phone is ever lost or stolen, you can instantly lock it from anywhere by using the ‘find my device function.”

In addition to storing and using payment cards, Google Wallet users can secure digital passes such as loyalty cards, event tickets, and boarding passes.

Google Wallet launched in South Africa with six banks: FirstRand, Absa, Nedbank, Standard Bank, Discovery Bank, and Investec.

“There will be more,” Kim added, hinting at future collaborations between Google Wallet and South African service providers.

Google Wallet has also partnered with four international airlines that fly to and from South Africa: United, KLM, Air France, and Singapore Airlines. This collaboration enables digital boarding passes and tickets to be stored in Google Wallet and accepted by airlines.

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