What’s the Difference Between Google Wallet and Pay

Google has confusing named products, and that might be most apparent with Google Wallet and Google Pay. These two apps have taken a convoluted path to get where they are today. So, which one should you be using?

Google Pay Header

RAYMOND OGLESBY @RaymondOglesby2
December 15, 2022

Google has confusing named products, and that might be most apparent with Google Wallet and Google Pay. These two apps have taken a convoluted path to get where they are today. So, which one should you be using?

This is for diPhone and Android. Screenshots are from iPhone XR running iOS 16+

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Both Google Wallet and Pay have seen some pretty drastic revamps over the years. Their purposes have changed a lot and confused many people in the process. Let’s see what these products have to offer.

Some History

You may be surprised to learn that the original version of Google Wallet was introduced way back in 2011. The service was primarily for sending money to people and there was a physical Google Wallet credit card as well.

The Google Wallet card allowed people to pay for things in physical and online stores with the funds in their accounts. This was before mobile payments with tap-to-pay were widely supported. The Wallet card was a very clever solution.

Eventually, tap-to-pay gained enough traction that Google launched Android Pay in 2015. It maintained Google Wallet and Android Pay separately until 2018 when the two were combined into a single service called Google Pay. The Wallet card was discontinued in 2016.

Then, in 2020, Google Pay got a massive overhaul with a bunch of new features. All of Google’s mobile payment services were under one umbrella… for a while. In the summer of 2022, the service was split in two, with the Google Wallet branding making a return.

That’s where things stand as of September 2022. Google Pay and Google Wallet exist as two separate products; sometimes. More on that later.

Google Wallet

Google Wallet can most easily be summed up by its name; it’s a digital wallet. You can add credit cards, debit cards, loyalty cards, transportation passes, event tickets, vaccine cards, and gift cards.

Basically, Google Wallet is for paying for things online and in physical stores with tap-to-pay. It features a very simple interface that shows your cards, tickets, and passes. Google Wallet is only available for Android since the iPhone does not allow non-Apple apps for tap-to-pay.

Google Wallet can generally be used with any card reader that has an Apple Wallet, Google Pay, or the contactless tap-to-pay icon. For online purchases, look for the Google Pay or Google Wallet buttons at checkout. It will take some time for the Wallet branding to replace Google Pay. Refer to the below image:

Google 4-5
Google Wallet

Google Pay

Google Pay received a massive overhaul in 2020, and it’s pretty much the same experience now. The tap-to-pay functionality is still present in Google Pay, but that’s not the only thing it can do.

The Google Pay app has peer-to-peer payments, shopping deals, cashback offers, and a full-blown banking experience with personal finance insights. You can think of Pay as a combination of services similar to Venmo, PayPal, RetailMeNot, and Mint.

Unlike Google Wallet, Google Pay is available on both Android and iPhone. The tap-to-pay functionality does not work on the iPhone, but the other features do. It’s a feature-packed app that tries to do a lot of things. In fact, it might be too much for some people, which is why Google Wallet exists. See the below image:

Google 1-3
Google Pay

Which App to Use?

Depending on where you live, you may not even need to decide which app to use. Google Pay and Google Wallet only exist side-by-side in the U.S. and Singapore. In every other country, Google Wallet entirely replaced Google Pay, and India does not have Wallet at all (as of September 2022).

Google Pay can do everything Google Wallet can do, but Google Wallet can not do everything Google Pay can do. If you are in a country that has both, you can choose between the full experience (Pay) or just mobile payments (Wallet). There’s no reason to have both.

Use Google Pay if you want peer-to-peer payments, deals, rewards, or personal finance tools. If you only care about mobile payments, Google Wallet is a much more streamlined experience for that. The choice is even simpler for iPhone users; Google Pay is the only option.

In closing, Google Wallet is for mobile payments, Google Pay is for mobile payments, and more. In the author’s opinion, it’s still too complicated.

-Courtesy of other tech blog posts

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Author: Raymond

I am Raymond Oglesby, an Information Technology (IT) specialist with 30 years in the field. I have taught Microsoft Applications and troubleshot computers in 15 countries and many States. My career was focused on mainframes and desktops from application development to implementation. I have written hundreds of programs for various architectures. I decided to start a blog to share my knowledge and experiences with you. I plan on updating this blog at least twice a week about smart phone apps to Windows. Please feel free to leave a Comment or Tweet. I would love to hear from you. Do you have a computer tech question? I will do my best to answer your inquiry. Please mention the app and version that you are using. To help me out, you can send screenshots of your data related to your question.

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