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3rd August 2012

Google Wallet MkII works with any card

Google Wallet MkII now exists overcoming the two most important problems with the wallet. It should now allow a much more rapid roll out of the wallet. The new Google wallet can work with any MasterCard,Visa, American Express or Discover card issued by any US bank. Secondly the key encryption information is held in the cloud and not on the phone itself. Google's Mk1 version had the information on the phone and this could be accessed relatively simply if someone had access to the phone and basic settings were not password protected.


The new version allows the user to add a card using a secure internet application to the wallet. Should the phone be stolen the same internet location can be used to disable the wallet.


The way it works is that each Google wallet is linked to a Bancorp prepaid MasterCard. In a process similar to that already used by merchants to work repeat payments the code stored on the phone is not the card number but the virtual account number which can only be connected up by MasterCard to the 'real' account. The wallet can be used in any of the 200,000 POS outlets equipped for MasterCard PayPass. As PayPal lost no time in reminding the markets the Google Mk2 wallet uses many of the same approaches as the PayPal wallet does. Google no longer has to negotiate and agree a deal with each bank.


Google Mk1 required users to have one specific model of phone, to bank with Citigroup and to live in one (later two) districts of the United States making its potential target audience extremely small. The opening to all cards and the increasing number of NFC phones capable of making POS transactions contactlessly has got over many of these problems.


Google is now facing competition from the forthcoming Isis pilot launch in the US and from Visa and MasterCard wallets. It does have the power to link its search engine and merchant locations to its wallet to give a seamless identify goods and then purchase process whether the purchase is POS at a physical store or over the internet. Some believe the iPhone 5, expected to be launched in September may also have NFC capability bringing Apple into the fight for the mobile wallet also.


The Google Wallet introduction of its Mark II wallet could not have been more different to its initial launch. Mk II was launched through a blog posting and You Tube video with no big press hype.