Google Wallet goes live

Ok, it's not quite a UK launch, but the US launch of Google Wallet does have an impact on the UK and points towards a UK service in the near future.

According to The Guardian, the service has just gone live, but only for a select few. Essentially, right now you'll need a Google Nexus S smartphone on the US Sprint network, plus the app to use it. We're guessing that's not you. It's not us either if that eases the pain.

But on the off chance it is you, that means you can replace your old bulky wallet or purse with the phone you carry around anyway, the NFC chip within allowing you to flash your phone at designated readers to pay for goods and services. Right now, presumably to test it thoroughly before a worldwide rollout, the service is being focused on new York and San Francisco, cities that already have a strong network of readers.

But here's the interesting bit. If you sign up to a Google Prepaid Card, that card will work internationally at launch, although we don't know how that will work practically right now. More to come on this, we think.

In separate news, Pocket Lint claims Visa has granted Google a worldwide licence to Visa payWave, its NFC-based payment technology. That licence allows Visa-issuing banks to offer Visa account holders the chance to add their debit, credit and prepaid cards to Google Wallet. So Visa's European member banks will be able to offer the same service when it launches on this side of the Atlantic.

All of which points to a rollout of the service in the UK sooner rather than later. 2012 is constantly flagged up as the year of NFC and it really wouldn't be any surprise to see Google Wallet land before the Olympics next summer. Ideally, with more phones and networks on board.

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