Slowly but surely, Google Wallet has been starting to really spread this year. With support for the mobile payment system coming from Sprint (for now, at least, though the situation could take a 180 if Sprint ever gets its own rumored payment system together) with popular phones like the Galaxy S III, more and more Android users are finding themselves in a position to finally take advantage of Wallet. Even where carriers aren’t so receptive, users continue to find ways to force the app onto their handsets. Google itself has been at work adding some new functionality to Wallet, and today releases a major update with support for new cards and some enhanced security features.
So far, the only credit cards supported by Wallet were Citi MasterCards, leaving many users stuck with buying credit on Google’s prepaid card. Now Google’s worked out a way to let you use any old credit card with the system, but there are a few catches.
Wallet will now let you use any Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover card, credit or debit, to make payments. Once you use a card with Google, it will save the details to your account. Then, when using Wallet, a virtual Google MasterCard is created for the purposes of the transaction, but all the charges go back to the actual card you affiliated with the account. That lets Google support all those card types without needing agreements from the companies behind them – that’s important since those companies are working on their own payment system and have no interest in Google competing. The only hitch might be with how the payments appear on your credit card statement, as it’s presumed you’ll only see charges from Google, and will have to consult your Wallet account to get a full breakdown of just what merchants you visited.
There have already been a few security scares over Wallet, so we like the sound of the app’s new remote deactivation feature. You’ll be able to stop Wallet from working on a lost or stolen phone through your Google account in a web browser, preventing the potential for unauthorized charges.
The updated Google Wallet is available in the Play store now.