Big Update for Google Wallet

Many of those who were thrilled at the prospect of the NFC-based payment system Google Wallet are probably tired of waiting for the service to catch on. Still, the search giant is still keen on developing the platform; just recently, there was a big update for Google Wallet that improved a glaring problem: the lack of compatibility with many credit and debit cards.

Learning from the Past

One of the things that prevent Google Wallet from taking off is the lack of support from cards apart from CitiBank MasterCard. This limits the applications of the system as well as what users could do with it after their $10 credit was gone.

What’s different now? American Express, Discover, and Visa cards can now be used with Google Wallet. This was made possible through a change in the developer’s approach: instead of using a mobile phone’s designated secure storage area, the payment cards used in Google Wallet are now being stored in secure servers managed by Google. Taking the place of the payment cards in the secure storage area are virtual card numbers dubbed “wallet IDs” that are used to make purchases and transactions at any compatible point of sale terminal.

How This Helps

While that solution seems pretty straightforward, what we might not realize is that this helps banks facilitate their integration into the platform. With the way paved for more users to enjoy the system, there’s no doubt that Google Wallet will be able to gain more traction from its large prospective user base.

In addition, Google assures everyone that the servers they will use this time around are really “highly secure”—this is surely a reference to Google Wallet hacks that occurred in February of this year, prompting the scrapping of a prepaid card system. It turns out that that was simply a temporary setback, and this new approach resembles that in more ways than one, minus the security risks that helped scare people off.

Ramping Up the Service

Things don’t stop there for Google Wallet as the people behind it ramp up their efforts to bring a viable system in place that can be used by many smartphone and tablet PC owners. The way to wipe all financial data while resetting the app is next on the list of features rolled out with the update. All it would take is one click from the Google Wallet site’s Devices section. This is especially useful for cases where mobile phones get stolen or lost.

With all of Google’s plans to make the service hit the mainstream, there’s obviously still quite a bit more road to cover before Wallet takes off the ground as far as most mobile users go. Right now, the service canonly be used on Android devices with NFC capability as well as the Secure Element chip for security—there are eight of those devices currently supported, including the latest Google offering, the Asus Nexus 7 tablet.  Still, the time when we can use our mobile devices to pay for everything—from an enterprise’s RingCentral company phone subscription to an individual’s purchase of a candy bar—shouldn’t be that far off.