Google’s announcement of the initial availability of Google Wallet was interesting but not because of any immediate impact. Initially, this will be the equivalent of a large field trial as it will be available only on Nexus S phones and only on Sprint. Much of the coverage has focused on using Wallet to pay merchants in the real world (e.g. in a Cab or at Macy’s), but Google Wallet has far reaching implications for apps and in-app transactions.
If Google Wallet offers APIs that can be accessed by native apps on the phone, then payment processing could be shifted away from the app market to the phone itself. Ideally that would happen with minimal transaction processing costs at or even below those used in card present transactions. It could also have absolutely minimal enduser overhead. For instance, a Zynga game app could simply pop open a dialog on the phone to let the user purchase a virtual good with a single click!
If Google enabled such public on-device APIs, it would start to pull the rug out underneath Apple’s 30% tax on in-app purchases. It would also result in a Cambrian explosion of phone based payments because unlike paying a real world merchant with apps there is no need for local NFC device. Google has in the past stated that they are committed to an open ecosystem with Wallet. Let’s hope that includes on-device APIs for third party apps!