Unless you’ve somehow been avoiding its products, Google probably hosts your email, stores your documents, knows who you interact with (via Google+), customises your searches, tracks which YouTube videos you’ve watched, and maybe even built your phone’s operating system. Now the tech giant could soon keep your debit or credit card info on its servers and help you pay for everything from your morning coffee to your new Chromebook, thanks to some major updates to Google Wallet.
Google’s mobile payments app (which essentially transforms your smartphone into your wallet) previously only supported a card from one American bank. But thanks to a major update, users can pay using all credit and debit cards from Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover. It’s also changed the way payments are processed — now all the information is filed away in the cloud instead of on your smartphone. According to Google Wallet’s head of project management Robin Dua, Google 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’s tried to make the idea of storing your account details on some distant server a bit less scary by putting in extra security measures to ensure that someone can’t steal your phone and take it on a shopping spree. You still have to enter a unique PIN on the phone before you make the payment, and you can remotely disable the app from their website if your phone ever goes missing. You can also track all the payments you’ve made using Google Wallet on the app and website.
According to an official blog post, it’s also rolled out the app to a number of new phones — you can now use Google Wallet on a Samsung Galaxy S III, Galaxy Nexus, LG Viper, LG Optimus, HTC Evo and the Nexus 7. Yes, it’s still Android-only at this stage.
It may have increased the number of people who can access and use the technology, but it definitely hasn’t hit the mainstream as yet. The NFC-based system, which was launched last year, currently only allows you to tap to pay at over 200 000 major chain stores in the US, or at a number of online partners who carry its ‘pay with Google’ button.
According to AllThingsD, American Express has said that it hasn’t given formal approval for their inclusion in the updated version of Google Wallet. The tech giant said it is currently in “active discussions” with American Express, but its users can still make payment in the mean time.