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Google Wallet enters 6 new countries, hints at digital ID feature for US airport checkpoints

But technological and regulatory challenges remain
Google Wallet enters 6 new countries, hints at digital ID feature for US airport checkpoints

The new Google Wallet app, unveiled by the tech giant in May, is now available in six new countries: Azerbaijan, Iceland, Moldova, Qatar, Serbia, and South Africa.

Google expanded the list of nations in which the tech is available earlier this week, adding the new countries to the Wallet features and support page.

Users in the six new markets will now be able to add payment cards to Google Wallet and pay with their Android phones and WearOS devices wherever contactless payments are supported.

Google Wallet was released to replace Google Pay. The new technology supports not only contactless payments but, in theory, also various digital IDs, health passes, and more (although the availability of such features varies from country to country).

In this regard, the 9to5Google team recently spotted a Twitter post by Android researcher Mishaal Rahman, who said the Google Wallet might soon support a digital ID feature for Transportation Security Administration (TSA) airport checkpoints in the U.S.

“According to strings within Google Play Services v22.31.12, you’ll be able to ‘fly through TSA with just your phone’ by adding your state ID or driver’s license to Google Wallet and presenting it at ‘select TSA checkpoints’,” Rahman wrote on Twitter.

In order to get full TSA support, however, digital wallets need to be approved by both airports and local authorities. In the U.S., for instance, ten airports currently support mobile driver’s licenses (mDLs). Passengers also need to have TSA Precheck, which 9to5Google points out is only supported by Apple Wallet at the moment.

Still, according to an analysis by data-focussed publication PYMNTS, through the new Wallet features, Google is trying to turn the software into a “multipurpose identification super app, and hold its own against tough competition in the mobile wallet space.”

Further, considering the multitude of dedicated APIs (application programming interfaces) Google has access to through its highly specialized partners, the new Google Wallet features are likely to become more widespread in the near future.

Will the tech giant manage to overcome the technical and regulatory difficulties of implementing mDLs and other digital IDs into Wallet and turn the app into a comprehensive digital ID wallet? Keep following Biometric Update for further developments on this.

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