Google Wallet app now available on select smartphones

The first version of the Google Wallet app is now available on smartphones from Sprint, signaling the first official mobile phone payment system available in the United States.

The official kickoff was accompanied by an announcement by Google that, in addition to MasterCard, which is already a partner, other credit card providers, including Visa, Discover and American Express, have taken steps to join the Google Wallet team, reports.

With its MasterCard partnership alone, the Google Wallet app is accepted at approximately 140,000 merchants nationwide.

Google Wallet uses near field communication technology that enables consumers to make purchase transactions by swiping their smart phones at participating retailers that have the compatible checkout device.

Visa, Discover and American Express have already provided their NFC specs to Google.

Some experts believe that even with the major credit card companies on board, Google Wallet will still face many challenges.

"Google should be able to pick up all the back-end stuff like credit card company support just fine, but the difficulty Google and everybody else has is the front-end infrastructure," Rob Enderle, principal analyst for the Enderle Group, said, according to

According to Enderle, many sensors have to be funded and integrated within retailers' payment systems and there may not be enough of them, which could cause people to return to their cards.

"We tried smart cards for a while, and even with the backing of the banks, they didn't go anywhere," Enderle said, reports. "And the banks see Google Wallet as competition."

Google has signed Subway, CVS and Walgreens as merchant partners. Each are among the top retailers in the United States in terms of number of locations.

Google is also testing single-taps at some locations, including American Eagle. Single-tap utilizes coupons or discounts that can be downloaded into a Google Wallet by the consumer, reports.

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