It may not be as big a surprise as Google hoped it would be at this point, but the company has now officially announced its NFC-based Google Wallet mobile payment service, complete with backing from a number of retail and financial partners including Subway, Macy’s, Walgreens, Toys ‘R Us, First Data, Citibank and MasterCard — plus Sprint on the carrier side. In the case of MasterCard, that partnership means Google Wallet will be fully compatible with the PayPass contactless payment system that’s already widely in place today. Trials are beginning immediately in New York and San Francisco, with a full release planned for this summer. Initially, the Sprint Nexus S 4G will be the only compatible phone, but support for more phones is promised “over time,” and Google even suggested that phones without built-in NFC could simply use an NFC sticker (the Google Wallet app itself will work on non-NFC phones as well). You’ll also have to use either a Citi MasterCard or Google Prepaid Card with the service, although the latter can obviously be funded from any other card.
Also announced today is Google Offers, which will deliver an “offer of the day” to your inbox, and let you seek out other offers from retailers. Of course, it also ties into Google Wallet, and you’ll be able to both redeem offers and receive loyalty rewards from retailers with just a tap of your NFC-enabled phone. As far as Google is concerned, however, mobile payments and special offers are just the beginning for Google Wallet. It eventually sees everything from boarding passes to tickets to IDs (and even keys) being stored on your phone. Not surprisingly, all of this is US-only for the time being, but Google is apparently working on international expansion. Head on past the break for a video and the complete press release.