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Google introduces Wallet; brings NFC tech to cash register

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The new Google Wallet payments program uses near-field communications technology to allow consumers to digitally pay for goods. Will you use it?

Google on Thursday announced its Google Wallet payments program, which uses near-field communications technology to allow consumers to digitally pay for goods.

The company is partnering with Sprint, First Data, MasterCard and Citi for the venture -- we hinted at this back in March -- which intends to unify mobile and local bricks-and-mortar commerce.

Google Wallet brings both offers (digital coupons, if you will) and payment abilities at the point of sale. It's a tap to pay (and perhaps save) type of experience, and brings Google's massive scale -- it already has 300,000 merchants signed up, from Macy's to Walgreens -- to the register.

Wallet will support multiple credit and debit cards, and in the case of the MasterCard partnership, will work at PayPass contactless terminals. On the security front, a four-number pin number will be required to use the service, not to mention the requisite encryption for the data itself.

As you might expect, it will be fully available on the Samsung Nexus S, a Google Android-based smartphone. But with some 50 percent of smartphones expected to be NFC-enabled by 2014, it's a 150 million-device opportunity.

Google Wallet will launch this summer in New York City and San Francisco, with a nationwide rollout to follow.

The company also announced Google Offers, which is the "deals 'n' steals" side of the equation. The service involves the delivery of potential savings to inboxes each day, and essentially allows you to digitally scan (or just display to a cashier) a coupon for a particular retailer.

The company has signed on American Eagle Outfitters and Jamba Juice for the program. Some of the deals will use geolocation -- not unlike Foursquare or Gowalla -- to target deals. It will also be available this summer.

Google says you'll be able to put everything in its new Wallet. Will you?

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Andrew Nusca

Editor Emeritus

Andrew Nusca is editor of SmartPlanet and an associate editor for ZDNet. Previously, he worked at Money, Men's Vogue and Popular Mechanics magazines. He holds degrees from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and New York University. He is based in New York but resides in Philadelphia. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure