Google’s mobile payments platform Google Wallet has been updated with a number of new features, including support for all debit and credit cards — a long-awaited and necessary addition. But the really interesting change is a move to the cloud; consumers will now store their credit card numbers on Google’s servers instead of locally on their smartphones.
Not familiar with Google Wallet? It’s an application for Android smartphones that lets you pay for goods and services at local stores, in cabs, or in public transit systems with a close-range wireless technology called Near Field Communication (NFC). As with Square and other mobile payments platforms, the goal is to replace not only paper money but also credit cards with a more secure, digital alternative.
It was the security side of things that drew Google some raised eyebrows in the previous version of Wallet. A person using Wallet stored his or her payment information (that means credit card number and other details) on the phone’s internal storage. He or she then entered a personal identification number to protect it, but in this day and age a PIN is not adequate security should someone unfriendly get his or her hands on the device.
Some privacy-focused consumers won’t like storing their credit card numbers with yet another party, but it’s safe to say that Google’s cloud storage servers will be much more secure than the phones themselves.
To make users even more comfortable, though, Google has added a feature that lets you log on to your Google account from any computer with your password and remotely disable any Google Wallet-enabled device’s access to your information before a thief can crack it.