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Amex didn't sign on to Google Wallet's major app upgrade

It seems some toes may have been stepped on with Google's debut of its new Wallet app -- American Express never agreed to be included in the upgrade.

Dara Kerr Former senior reporter
Dara Kerr was a senior reporter for CNET covering the on-demand economy and tech culture. She grew up in Colorado, went to school in New York City and can never remember how to pronounce gif.
Dara Kerr
2 min read
Google has upgraded its Wallet app to include all major credit and debit cards. Google

As Google announced its major upgrade for Google Wallet yesterday -- in which shoppers could use any type of major credit card to load up their smartphone -- American Express confirmed today that it didn't agree to such a deal.

"We want to make sure Google's mobile wallet product meets the standards we set for our card members in terms of the transparency and clarity about transaction detail," American Express' VP of social media communications Brad Minor told CNET in an e-mail. "And right now, American Express does not have an agreement with Google for our cards to be used in the Google mobile wallet."

The crux of the issue may be how Google deals with several credit cards at once. The way the app upgrade works is by aiming to support all credit and debit cards from Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover in the cloud. However, the in-store Wallet transactions are still handled by Google's original partner MasterCard via a PayPass account. So what that means is there's a possibility that not all purchase information is passed along to the credit card actually paying for the transaction.

"To support all credit and debit cards, we changed our technical approach to storing payment cards," Google's head of product management for Google Wallet Robin Dua wrote in a blog post yesterday. "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."

This is all to say, however, that Amex still may come around. Minor explained: "While we are interested in the technology and remain in discussions with them about opportunities to work together, we did not provide approval to be included until we had come to agreement on terms."

Google seems to be on board with keeping the discussions going. "For many years, we've accepted American Express, Visa, MasterCard and Discover for online and mobile transactions," a Google spokesperson told CNET. "The latest version of Google Wallet extends these same benefits to people who choose to use the Google Wallet app to make purchases in-store. We are in active discussions with American Express and look forward to working together as partners as the world embraces digital payments."

Updated at 9:45 p.m. PT with comment from a Google spokesperson.