Google Wallet Update


Last week I introduced Google Wallet in the post “Google challenges PayPal, Amazon Payments, and others with innovative new version of Google Wallet.”  Google Wallet is a new way to send money to friends and relatives over the internet.  Unlike other similar services, Google Wallet even lets you send money right from within Gmail.  If you want to know more about Google Wallet and why I’m excited about it, I highly recommend that you read the aforementioned post.

Getting Google Wallet

It’s easy to sign up for Google Wallet (it’s free).  The tricky part is getting your account upgraded to the new version that includes the Send Money feature.  Theoretically this capability will eventually roll out to everyone, but for now the only known way to get the feature is for someone who already has the feature to send you money.  Here are a couple of public options:

  1. Leave a comment for The Wandering Aramean here; or
  2. Join the conga line at Dan’s Deals here.

A bug

When I first wrote about Google Wallet I offered to send people a penny each if they commented in my post, but I cut it off once I had an unmanageably long list of requesters.  I moved the list into Excel and have been slogging my way through the list sending each person a penny from my Google Wallet balance.  Through this process, though, I discovered something disturbing.  Many people seemed to have requested pennies more than once, but with different email addresses.  What was the point of that?  Did people really think they would get a significant amount of money this way?  Were they just trying to sabotage my efforts to spread the Google wealth?  At first I got angry about this, but later it occurred to me that there was a bug in the system.  People weren’t trying to scam me.  Here is what was happening:

I would put in an email address that Google Wallet could identify, and then Google Wallet would resolve the email address to a name like this:


Then, I would go to the next person on the list and enter their email address.  If Google Wallet didn’t know who the second email address belonged to it would incorrectly attribute the email address to the previous person I had addressed, like this:


See above how Google Wallet erroneously attributed the new email address to “Frequent Miler”?  Anyway, once I figured out that this was just a bug and not people out to scam me I went ahead and sent pennies to those who I previously thought ill of (sorry about that!).

What have we learned?

Over on FlyerTalk in this thread, people have been reporting their experiences with Google Wallet. Here is what I’ve gathered from a read-through:

  • You can use Visa/MasterCard/Amex gift cards as the source of funds for sending money.  Google Wallet does put a temporary $1 hold on the card so either send $1 less than the total on the card or wait for the hold to come off (one person reported that the hold disappeared in only an hour).
  • You can link your Bluebird account and withdraw money from Google Wallet to Bluebird.  I’m not sure why you would want to do this, but you can (Bluebird allows ACH transfers into the account, but not out).  You can find out your Bluebird account and routing number by going through most of the steps within your Bluebird account to setup Direct Deposit.
  • Payments under $1,000 seem to go through immediately whereas larger payments take time to process.
  • No one has reported any cases of credit card companies treating these payments as cash advances.
  • We don’t know exactly why Google flags some accounts but they do.  Some people have received emails from Google asking them to stop.  Others have had individual transactions cancelled.  At least one person reported that their Google Wallet account was suspended for their security.  They were asked to submit verification documents for review.

Have you learned anything useful about Google Wallet?  Please comment below.

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