Originally announced in May and expected to roll out summer of 2011, Google Wallet was officially made available to a limited audience on September 19th. Like most new technologies in the beginning phases, the Google Wallet is taking baby steps, currently only accessible to Sprint Nexus S 4G phone users. In addition, users can only make mobile payments with a Citi Mastercard and/or a Google Prepaid Card, which funds can actually be added to using any credit card. According to Google, Discover, Visa and American Express have enabled their cards to be used with future versions of the Google Wallet.

Google Wallet is just one of the contenders in the evolving digital wallet space which uses near-field communication (NFC) to send data wirelessly between two objects when in close proximity to one another. By combining multiple credit cards, loyalty programs and point of sale offers, you’re able to make in-store purchases by simply swiping your mobile phone at checkout.

Retailer participation in the digital wallet world will, of course, require research, site revisions, testing and optimization – but the benefits could prove to be immense. Data-driven marketers will have endless data available at their fingertips to help them further understand the influences behind consumer purchasing decisions. Although consumer adoption may be gradual, the digital wallet could potentially provide opportunities for retail marketing professionals to integrate it with natural search, paid search and display campaign strategies.