ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.-PSCU is partnering with Google to make Google Wallet available to credit unions. The goal is to keep credit unions top of wallet-and top of mind-with members as payment solutions converge.

The program is currently in a beta test with six PSCU credit unions: GTE Financial, Tampa, Fla.; BCU, Vernon Hills, Ill; CFE FCU, Orlando, Fla.; Arkansas FCU, Jacksonville, Ark; Vantage CU, Bridgeton, Mo., and TruMark Financial CU, Trevose, Penn.

Google Wallet is a mobile payment system developed by Google that allows users to store payment cards on their mobile phone. Google Wallet uses near-field communication (NFC) that allows users to "tap and go" on NFC-enabled payment terminals.

With the adoption pace of mobile and alternative payments increasing dramatically, PSCU President/CEO Michael Kelly told Credit Union Journal the time has come for mobile payments to become "real" for the CU industry. Payments convergence is occurring, he said, and there is the real threat that credit unions, just holding onto plastic, can get cut out of the payments mix.

"So branded delivery of mobile payments keeps credit unions at the center of their members' lives," said Kelly.


What Members Will See

When members of participating PSCU credit unions download Google Wallet from Google Play, the company's online store, cardholders will see an actual image of their credit union's card, which will be clicked on each time they use Google Wallet to pay. This brand reinforcement is key to helping credit unions own their share of the mobile channel, said Kelly.

"A member who conducts a lot of card transactions will pull the plastic from their wallet and swipe 120 times a month," explained the CEO. "That's a lot of impressions. On the handset the scary thing is you can become lost in that experience. That's why it's important the CU brand appears on the mobile screen at payment time to keep the credit union at the forefront of members' minds. All those little brand touches help the consumer think about credit unions when it's time for bigger things like loans."

The newest version of Google Wallet supports all credit and debit cards from Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover. PSCU is working closely with Google on other initiatives that will enable all of its credit unions to brand their payment cards in the Google Play store, as well as provide the ability for members to easily save their credit union payment card data in the Google Wallet via the credit union's website.

As an additional enhancement, the new version of the Wallet app stores payment card data on highly secure Google servers, instead of in the secure storage area on the phone. Users simply select the payment account and "tap" the phone at a terminal equipped with NFC technology. For online transactions, consumers' cloud-resident payment account information can be applied at checkout time, simplifying the online shopping experience. Another security enhancement in the Google Wallet now includes the ability for users to remotely disable the mobile wallet app from their Google Wallet account via the web if the device is lost or stolen.


'One Fell Swoop'

Kelly said Google, in its efforts to expand acceptance of Google Wallet, was seeking a strong partner to enter the CU space and that PSCU's reach, including 56 of the top 100 credit unions, provides Google "access to our market in one fell swoop. They liked that."

Kelly said the first order of business is to work through the beta tests to ensure the best user experience before rolling the program out further. "We have not set a date for when this will be more widely adopted, but we have our foot on the gas and aim to get it out in the marketplace as soon as possible for as many credit unions that want it."

Kelly added that the timing is right for the partnership with Google, not only to increase CU's presence in the mobile space, but to help leverage the growth momentum CUs are experiencing in the last year. He also believes the open exchange of ideas, between PSCU and its member CUs, will keep credit unions on the leading edge of payments.

"We feel PSCU's cooperative, member-owned business model allows us to make smarter decisions for the long term for our owners and allows us to fulfill our promise to them, which is to help them compete and prosper."

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