Services & Software

Google Wallet to discontinue prepaid cards in October

Web giant urges users to spend the balances on their cards ahead of October 17, when the cards will disappear from users' accounts.

After seemingly overcoming a series of security issues, Google is cashing out of the prepaid payment card market next month.

The Web giant began telling users today to get busy spending whatever balances remain on their cards because those cards will be discontinued on October 17.

The prepaid cards were made obsolete with the introduction of the ability to use any debit and credit cards with Google Wallet, the company said. Google announced on August 1 that its payment system was moving to the cloud, meaning it would be able to accept all major credit and debit cards.

Debuting in mid-2011, Google Wallet was touted as an innovative yet simple way to pay for purchases using just a smartphone and near-field communications (NFC) technology. However, mass adoption of the mobile commerce platform was hampered by having just a few methods of payment, including the Google prepaid card, which could be reloaded by any existing credit card.

The prepaid card was further hobbled by vulnerabilities that could allow money to be stolen from users' accounts. Google suspended the use of its prepaid cards in February after a pair of hacks were discovered that allowed access to a user's funds simply by resetting the PIN and using a prepaid card.

The company soon issued a fix that prevented prepaid cards from being re-provisioned to another person and restored the ability to issue new prepaid cards.

Google said today that users will no longer be able to add funds to the cards starting on September 17 and that prepaid cards will disappear from the Google Wallet app on October 17, meaning users will not be able to spend their balances after that date. But Google said users will be able to request a refund of any remaining funds after that date.