Google is trying to make mobile payments better with an update to Google Wallet that lets users add any credit card to the service.
Google announced the new update on the Google Commerce blog. Starting today Google Wallet users can put any credit or debit card they own into the service. Users simply need to input the credit card’s information in the Google Wallet app, the Google Wallet web page, or the Google Play Store.
After users put the cards into Google Wallet they can use those cards at any store that accepts Google Wallet. That includes about 25 U.S. national stores, and any store that uses MasterCard PayPass.
To make the service more secure Google now stores the credit cards in Google Wallet in its own secure servers. The app still stores a wallet ID on the device, but it’s now much harder for hackers to get ahold of the credit card numbers unless they know the PIN to the Wallet app and the phone.
Google claims storing the data in the cloud also speeds up transactions and makes it easier for banks to add their cards to the service.
The new cloud system also means users can use the Google Wallet web service to deactivate the cards on their phones if necessary. With that users no longer need to worry about phone thieves also getting ahold of their credit cards, as long as they can get to the website before the thief cracks the two PINs.
The new Google Wallet app sounds great, but it’s sad that it only works with a total of seven devices, one of which is the Wi-Fi-only Nexus 7. The full list of supported devices is here. The site lists the Samsung Galaxy S III as a supported device, but fails to mention that it only works on Sprint unless the user uses a hack or has an unlocked version. We we able to download the app to an AT&T Galaxy S III, but it told us the network doesn’t support the service.
We can’t wait for the day when we have one mobile payments service that many stores accept and all carriers support. There’s a number of options out there from companies like Square, PayPal, and TabbedOut, but none of them are widely spread just yet.
Maybe Apple will try its hand at mobile payments with the Passbook app in iOS 6, but we don’t know yet. There’s rumors the iPhone 5 will have NFC, but NFC doesn’t always mean mobile payments as much as it means a simpler way to pair to devices.