Google Wallet against Apple Pay, duel of digital wallets: similarities, differences and which one is more worth it

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Google approaches Apple Pay with its new Wallet

Apple PayGoogle Wallet

Left, Apple Pay; right, Google Wallet

Android had its generic mobile payment application despite the fact that there is freedom for any bank to offer its own solution. Google Wallet started its services in 2014 and later changed its name to Android Pay. Since Google was not happy, it migrated the payment platform to Google Pay in 2018; with another movement that has left us the payment app as it was at the beginning: Google Pay is now Google Wallet. An incomprehensible 360º turn that, however, anticipates a much more extensive operation.

Apple was able to see the future needs and from the beginning raised mobile payments as part of a much broader digital portfolio. Apple Pay was integrated into Apple Wallet with the launch of the iPhone 6 in 2014; although the payment platform did not arrive in Spain until 2016, first with a very small list of banks. In addition, it established almost a standard: Passbook passes, the majority format for transport tickets and other temporary passes. Passbook’s famous PKPASS files were established four years before Apple Pay was released, in 2012.

Android wallet also includes passes and boarding passes, but Google hasn’t been able to get airlines, merchants and other companies to adopt its passes API (more complicated to use than the PKPASS format) in a majority way. This is one of the main differences between both wallets: it is much easier

Key differences between Android and iOS wallets

Broadly speaking, we can say that everything that Google Wallet offers right now is included Apple Pay and Wallet, the Apple application that not only includes mobile payments, but also passes and transport tickets. Let’s look at the main differences between the two wallets in the mobile landscape.

google-wallet Apple Pay and Wallet
Available banking entities (Spain) 61 84
contactless payments Yes Yes
Payments from the smartwatch Yes (Wear OS only) Yes (Watch OS only)
Boarding passes and passes Yes (Google Pay API for Passes) Yes (Passbook format)
loyalty cards Yes Yes
gift cards Yes Yes
transport passes Yes (not in Spain) Yes (not in Spain)
identity documents Not (coming soon) Yes (United States)
health certificates Not (coming soon) Yes
Sending money between individuals Yes (coming soon) Yes, with Apple Cash (US only)

Google Wallet still needs time to reach the variety of options that the iOS wallet includes. And there is one area where Google should compromise: the inclusion of Passbook passes directly in Google Wallet. Unfortunately, it does not seem that it will happen in the near future: today Apple’s solution is much more powerful, versatile and universal.