Internet search engine giant and content provider, Google, has launched its new ‘Google Wallet’ facility in the US, a product which enables mobile phone users to make purchases by swiping or tapping their phones at dedicated pay points. The facility is understood to be the first of its kind in the world to have been made available to the public, and promises to open up new avenues in mobile marketing.

Google has joined forces with the Spring Nextel mobile phone network to launch the service exclusively on the Samsung’s Nexus S 4G smartphone model.

At the moment, the service will be available to holders of either a special Citibank Mastercard, or a dedicated Google prepay Mastercard, although there are plans to also integrate the service with American Express, Visa and Discover cards.

Google Wallet functions via a built-in chip inside the phone which permits secure near field communication (NFC) with a corresponding point of sale device.

It is anticipated that as other makes of mobile phone are introduced incorporating NFC technology that they too will be able to allow users access to Google’s new service.

Google’s vice president of payments, Osama Bedier, emphasised that Google Wallet is intended as more than just an add-on gimmick, in that the facility is designed in the long-term to replace the user’s entire stock of credit cards normally carried whilst out and about:

“Our goal is to make it possible for you to add all your payment cards to Google Wallet, so you can say goodbye to even the biggest traditional wallet.”

he said.