Google Wallet finally gets real, expands to all major U.S. credit providers

Google on Wednesday afternoon made a huge announcement for its near field communications (NFC)-powered Google Wallet platform. Beginning August first, with an update to the Google Wallet app, Android phone users with supported NFC devices such as the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, HTC One X, or Fujistu Arrows, will be able to use any credit card from Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover as an NFC payment solution. These credit cards can be used at one of the 200,000 MasterCard PayPass-supported retail locations across the United States.

Not only does the update support the full assortment of major U.S. credit card companies, but it also moves the encrypted secure bit for credit card authentication off the phone, and into the cloud on Google's servers. Previously, the wallet ID (virtual card number) was stored in a secure encrypted storage area of the Android phone. This could corrupt the wallet on the phone if software updates were performed, or firmware was updated without clearing the wallet data first. But now with the new permissions being passed down from the cloud, there is an added level of security. That new level of security is the ability to remotely disable your mobile wallet app if your phone is stolen.

The new service will pass through Google any retail purchases made on your card via NFC. Google will then instantly charge your chosen credit or debit card giving you detailed purchase information on the phone on top of showing it in your typical credit card statements. This, as Robin Dua, Head of Product Management for Google Wallet noted, will speed up the integration process for banks.

Banks that want to help their customers save cards to Google Wallet, including their custom card art, can apply on Google's new online bank support application site at no extra cost. Also, to remotely disable your Android devices' access to your wallet, Google has set up a device managment site.

This new platform could easily be expanded to a whole host of other services as well. The new web backend for the secure authentication could, for example soon lead to mobile transit cards and personal money transaction services with NFC, similar to PayPal and Square.

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