Google Wallet launches in South Africa: Here’s what you should know

google wallet app south africa

Google Wallet has officially arrived in South Africa, providing locals with a digital wallet to manage payments, loyalty cards, and even boarding passes.

As opposed to just offering contactless and digital payments, the app has a range of features that are useful for managing your cards and various documents.

“Access to technology is vital for economic prosperity as millions of people use their mobile devices daily to tap and pay at stores, pay for public transportation and to utilise a variety of passes. At Google, we have learned that great things happen when technology works for everyone,” Google SA Country Director, Alistair Mokoena, said in a statement.

“By including everyone – a dynamic ecosystem of manufacturers, developers and users – we want to make digital wallets accessible to everyone through fast, secure access to their everyday essentials.”

But what exactly is Google Wallet, how do you access it, and which banks support it? Here’s all you need to know.

What is Google Wallet?

The Google Wallet digital wallet is different from Google Pay, which facilitates multiple ways to make card payments. Luckily, Pay is part of the Google Wallet offering.

In addition to storing your debit and credit cards securely and enabling payments, the Android app also stores digital documents such as tickets, boarding passes, and vaccine certificates.

You can even add gift cards to the wallet — allowing your phone to replace a variety of physical items you would usually need to carry with you.

“Most importantly, security and privacy are built into every part of Google Wallet, making payments safer and allowing people to transact seamlessly and with confidence throughout the day. This will allow users to make transactions using a virtual card number (a token),” Mokoena says.

How to access the digital wallet

Since Google Pay has been available through your Chrome browser and the Play Store, you may be wondering how you go about activating the full suite of features from Google Wallet.

If you already have a card linked to your Google account, it will automatically load to your Google Wallet.

To get started with the other features, you can download the app from the Google Play Store.

When you open the app for the first time, you can choose the Google Account you want to use. You can then get started loading cards and documents by tapping the “Add to Wallet” button.

google wallet add cards screen

This will give you the option to add a debit or credit card, transport passes, loyalty cards, and gift cards.

Once your app is set up, you can also add passes from Gmail to your wallet. So when your boarding pass is emailed to you, you will see it in the Wallet app.

Which banks support Google Wallet in South Africa?

In order to make payments using cards in the app, your bank will need to support the functionality.

At launch, FirstRand Bank, Discovery Bank, Investec, Standard Bank, ABSA and Nedbank customers will be able to add their cards. These users will then be able to make payments with their Android phones and Wear OS devices.

Google Wallet should work anywhere that supports contactless payments. This includes online stores, but also physical shops.

“We are very excited about the launch of Google Wallet in South Africa. We hope that people not only enjoy how easy it is to use, but also how secure it is for them to transact their business confidently,” Mokoena notes.

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Feature image: Mika Baumeister/Unsplash

Megan Ellis


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