Google Wallet has officially launched in South Africa, almost a year and a half after Apple Pay entered the market. Android users can now download the Wallet app from the Google Play Store and use it to save and access cards like payment, loyalty and boarding passes. Other options will be available in future, which I assume would be vaccine etc.

Once you download the Wallet app, you need to choose which Gmail account you want to be signed in with. I have multiple, but the one I chose already pre-populated a bunch of travel loyalty cards onto it without me doing anything. These included Delta Air, Hilton Honours, Hyatt and JetBlue. You will then be prompted to add a card with the plus symbol.

Google says users will then be prompted to review and accept the Issuer terms and conditions before use, and once accepted and verified, cards will be tokenised and ready for use in Google Wallet.

It took less than a minute to enrol a couple of bank cards onto the app. Google Wallet currently supports the following banks: FirstRand Bank, Discovery Bank, Investec, Standard Bank, ABSA and Nedbank. It can be loaded onto an Android handset or Wear OS wearable, and can be used where contactless payments are accepted, which in SA, is almost everywhere, and of course, if you see the Google Pay symbol.

Google SA Country Director, Alistair Mokoena says 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).”

I set it up on a Samsung device and now the phone keeps prompting me to switch back to Samsung Pay as default, which doesn’t work as a shortcut now on the cover. Android problems.

If you have an Android handset, download the Wallet app immediately to pay in a more secure way.