Google Wallet now available for consumers

Sources are confirming what TechCrunch reported over the weekend: the Google Wallet is set to go live. Though one source said some minor technical issues have affected the product's launch (and may end up pushing it out another week), expect the Google Wallet to be available nationwide today.

As announced in May, and demoed last week by MasterCard, the Google Wallet will be available initially to users of Samsung's NFC-enabled Nexus S phone running on Sprint's network. Only holders of certain Citi-issued MasterCards will be able to load their cards into the Google Wallet for now. (Citi has a site that lets cardholders find out if their cards are eligible to be used with the Google Wallet.)

The Google Wallet can be used to pay for purchases at any retailer that accepts MasterCard's contactless PayPass method at the point of sale. Users can even download the MasterCard Android app to find merchants with PayPass-enabled terminals.

Along with the product launch, some additional retailers who will be partnering with Google on offers and discounts through the Google Wallet are expected to be announced. Currently, the list includes retailers like Macy's, Bloomingdales and Foot Locker, and restaurants like Einstein Brothers Bagels, Subway Restaurants, Peet's Coffee and Tea and Jamba Juice. (A more complete list of retail partners is available at the Google Wallet site.)

As for promoting the product, sources said to expect a big event of some kind in the future, but for now Google is sticking with a YouTube video it released last month featuring George Costanza's infamous wallet from Seinfeld.

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