Google is bidding to breathe new life into its stuttering mobile
wallet platform by launching a
cloud-based version of the app that can be linked to Visa,
American Express and Discover cards.
Launched a little over a year ago, Google Wallet was hyped
as the service that would jump-start the NFC mobile payments
revolution but takeup has been sluggish.
Although security concerns have played a part, the main
reason for the tepid welcome has been the search giant's inability
to move beyond its initial launch partners of MasterCard, Citi and
This is now being addressed with a new, cloud-based version
of the Google Wallet app that supports all credit and debit cards
from Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover.
The app stores card details on Google's servers rather than
on the handset, with a wallet ID - a virtual MasterCard - on the
phone's secure storage area used to enable transactions at the
point of sale.
The firm says that this new approach speeds up the
integration process for banks so they can add their cards to the
Wallet app in just a few weeks. By using the cloud, it has also
been able to add a new security feature that lets users remotely
disable their mobile wallet on a lost phone.
The wallet can be used to make purchases in the
Google Play store, online using Google Checkout and in instore at
more than 200,000 locations.
However, despite widening the service out beyond MasterCard,
the wallet still only works with six handsets from Sprint and
Virgin Mobile as well as the Nexus 7 tablet.
This could prove a major disadvantage when the telco-owned
Isis consortium launches its mobile NFC wallet - with all the card
firms on board - later this year.