Wallet in cloud – Google opts for more security

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Google has upgraded its Wallet to seek broader adoption by supporting all major payment cards and connecting it to the cloud.

The new cloud-based version of Google Wallet can work with any combination of debit and credit cards from Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover, as Robin Dua, head of product management for the product, explained in a company blog post. “To support all credit and debit cards, we changed our technical approach to storing payment cards,” he said – reports Caroline Gabriel.

One vital aspect was to improve customer trust after some security scares earlier in the year. Dua added: “The Google Wallet app now stores your payment cards on highly secure Google servers, instead of in the secure storage area on your phone. A wallet ID (virtual card number) is stored in the secure storage area of the phone, and this is used to facilitate transactions at the point of sale. Google instantly charges your selected credit or debit card.”

And if a smartphone is lost or stolen, the new app supports the ability to disable the wallet remotely via an online portal.

As well as boosting customer acceptance, Google thinks the new Wallet is more appealing to banks as the process of adding their cards to the system has been streamlined and now takes only a few weeks, instead of months.

When it made its debut last year, the NFC-enabled virtual wallet was ahead of rival initiatives like Isis from Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile. However, NFC payments have not yet taken off as quickly as many thought, and Apple and others have held back for now.

Google has not extended Wallet beyond the US, and until this week it only supported a few payment methods, notably Citi’s MasterCard and a Google prepaid card. It is also available on a limited number of handsets – mainly the NFC-supporting Galaxy Nexus 7 at Sprint. Verizon offers that handset, but has not enabled the wallet, perhaps because of its commitment to Isis, while even Sprint has been rumoured to be considering its own breakaway on m-payments.