Google is trying to inject new life into its mobile wallet platform by launching a cloud-based version of the app that can be linked to Visa, American Express and Discover cards. Will it be enough?
When it was launched in 2011, Google Wallet was presented as the ultimate
service that would take the NFC mobile payments revolution by surprise but its
launch and take up rate have proven disappointing.
Why is that? At the core of the issue, if one excludes some of the security
concerns, Google wallet was only launched through three initial partners MasterCard,Citi and Sprint.
Google has now addressed that 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.
Card details are stored by the app on Google's servers, not 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.
Google sees this new approach as a way of speeding up the integration process
for banks so their cards can be added to the Wallet app in just a few weeks. Additionally, the cloud brings a new security feature that allows users to remotely disable their mobile wallet on a lost phone.
The wallet, says Google, can be used to make purchases in the Google Play
store, online using Google Checkout and in instore at more than 200,000
However, despite widening the service out beyond just MasterCard, the next
hurdle for the cloud-based version of Google 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