Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) Wallet is getting just a little thinner. The mobile payments system will end support for in-store use of gift and loyalty cards on August 21, according to an e-mail sent to users and reported by AndroidSpin on Thursday (Aug. 8).
"On August 21, 2013, we are ending the current NFC redemption of gift and loyalty cards added to Google Wallet," the message said. "If you've already redeemed your gift cards, you don't have to do anything. If you have a balance remaining and you'd like to spend it using the tap and pay functionality, you must do so by August 21st. If you still have the physical gift cards, they will continue to work even after August 21st."
The change doesn't affect NFC credit or debit card payments, the message said, adding that Google is "working with retailers on other options for gift and loyalty card redemption."
The irony is that gift and loyalty cards are a key element of Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) not-quite-a-mobile-wallet Passbook, which many analysts speculate will eventually add the mobile payments that are increasingly all that's left for in-store use of Google Wallet. Google is apparently focusing on online mobile commerce until it has enough active users to make another pass at convincing merchants of the value of NFC payments.
But even that may not be in the cards. The new version of Google's Nexus 7 tablet reportedly comes equipped with an NFC chip, but no safe place (technically, a Secure Element) built into the tablet to securely store either payment-card data or a token for a Google Wallet cloud account.
As a result, the new Google tablet not only can't be used for in-store mobile payments, it won't even run the Google Wallet app for paying online. Despite Google's insistence that it's still backing Google Wallet, that action may be a stronger statement than anything else Google could say.
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