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White House Endorses Apple Pay: RIP Google Wallet?

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iPhone 6 users won't have to worry about what's in their wallet when they visit national parks next fall. Starting in September they'll be able to whip out the Apple smartphone to pay for park admittance now that the White House, and the federal government, is welcoming the mobile payment system with open arms.

Americans receiving veterans and Social Security payments via debit card will also be able to use those cards with Apple Pay as the deal between Apple and the federal government includes the Direct Express payment network and government cards issued through GSA SmartPay. The GSA SmartPay processes more than 87.4 million in transactions that are worth $26.4 billion every year.

The announcement by Apple CEO Tim Cook came during this weekend's cybersecurity conference at which President Barack Obama took the stage to discuss what Uncle Sam wants to do to fight cybersecurity threats. One of the things he's calling for is for companies, such as Apple, to be much more transparent about data security incidents, break-ins and network breaches. Sharing such data, federal lawmakers believe, will ultimately help forge a unified front against increasing threats and hacking attacks.

So maybe the federal government endorsement of Apple Pay is an olive branch of sorts in that regard, given Apple's leadership role in the tech sector or maybe it's a reflection of Apple's focus on rigid security protocols.

Either way, Uncle Sam's big endorsement of Apple Pay can't be happy or welcome news for Google, which has been trying to push its own mobile payment system, Google Wallet, for the past three years.

The Google Wallet app, which became available on all Android phones in 2011, involves about 300,000 merchant locations.

In 2012 Google expanded support to all major credit and debit cards but that doesn't mean support by those card companies was reciprocated. In fact, American Express went public at one point stating it never signed onto Wallet despite a Google announcement indicating such support. In 2013, Google then integrated Wallet and Gmail, allowing users to send money online.

The big problem, though, is that the Wallet launch arrived with a small sampling of support and has pretty much stayed the course. Citi was the issuing bank, MasterCard was the initial payment network, and Sprint was its initial mobile carrier. The merchant support list was just as sparse -- RadioShack, Food Locker and Walgreens topped the list.

In comparison, Apple Pay, which debuted in October 2014, just under six months ago, came out of the gate with most major credit cards on board including American Express, Bank of America, Capital One, JPMorgan Chase, MasterCard, Visa, and Wells Fargo.

Now, given the White House seal of approval, which means Apple Pay will work with the government's Direct Express payment network and government cards issued through GSA SmartPay, Apple's user base is broad and growing.

Apple clearly isn't content to just be the favored mobile payment system for the feds. Apple's CEO Tim Cook, in announcing the news, sees a lot of customer terrain ahead for Pay.

"We're also working to make sure credit and procurement cards issued to government employees for their expenses can be used with Apple Pay, and we're working on initiatives with leading banks and networks to use this technology with benefits programs like Social Security and veteran's pensions that serve citizens at both the state and federal level," he said.

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