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Google Wallet goes cloud; supports all credit, debit cards

Google might have figured out the key to mass adoption of its Wallet product: accept every major credit and debit card that's available.

The upgraded version of Google Wallet lets users remotely disable their mobile wallet apps using an online portal. Google Commerce Blog

Google Wallet is likely on a more mainstream path to wider adoption with U.S. consumers as the system is moving to the cloud, meaning it should be able to accept all major credit and debit cards.

Specifically, the new cloud-based version of the Google Wallet app supports all credit and debit cards from Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover.

Robin Dua, head of product management for the Google Wallet team, explained in a blog post that consumers can use any card when shopping in-store or online with Google Wallet.

To support all credit and debit cards, we changed our technical approach to storing payment cards. The Google Wallet app now stores your payment cards on highly secure Google servers, instead of in the secure storage area on your phone. A wallet ID (virtual card number) is stored in the secure storage area of the phone, and this is used to facilitate transactions at the point of sale. Google instantly charges your selected credit or debit card. This new approach speeds up the integration process for banks so they can add their cards to the Wallet app in just a few weeks.

Furthermore, in the case of a lost or stolen smartphone, the upgraded version of Google Wallet is designed to ensure that users should be able to remotely disable their mobile wallet apps using an online portal. But the Google Wallet app continues to have a PIN number for access to the app, and Google advises Wallet users to have an overall screen lock for the device on top of that as an extra layer of security.

Google Wallet debuted in mid-2011, touted as an innovative yet simple way to pay for purchases using just a smartphone and NFC technology.

However, there were a few catches that hampered mass adoption with consumers and merchants as the mobile commerce platform supported only a few methods of payment, including Citi's MasterCard and a Google prepaid card that can be reloaded by any existing credit cards, among other options that have been tacked on since.

Given that Google Wallet still depends on the requirement of the smartphone (or tablet, in the case of the Nexus 7) having NFC, it's still going to be a while before Google Wallet becomes a standard procedure. Nevertheless, the addition of more payment options with the top four credit card companies in the world is a step in the right direction for the company.

This story originally appeared on ZDNet.