Opinion, Products, Technology

Product Review: Google Wallet

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After reading about CurrentC’s recent security breach where a list of e-mail addresses was compromised, I decided to do some research about these new digital wallets. Luckily for CurrentC, the only information taken were e-mail addresses for a few beta testers and test accounts. On the scale of security breaches, this one was maybe a ‘blue’ on the Department of Homeland Security’s Advisory System Color Chart. However, consumers are always slow regain trust for companies after getting hacked.

There are a few of these Digital Wallets on the market: Passbook, Google Wallet, and LifeLock Wallet. Since I haven’t upgraded to the iPhone 6 yet, my current iPhone (5s) does not support NFC (Near Field Communication) payments. NFC Payments use a small loop antenna that creates a small magnetic field that can be detected by another loop antenna’s magnetic field, if it is in close enough range (less than an inch). This feature is currently only available on certain Android phones and the iPhone 6.

One thing all of these digital wallets have in common is that they all use various levels of encryption to protect your sensitive information. A random sequence of random numbers are assigned to your credit, debit card, bank account number, and name.

One feature that set Google Wallet apart in my book was the option to get the Google Wallet Card. Because my iPhone 5s does not support ‘tap & pay’ (NFC Payments), I decided to download Google Wallet and see what it could do. I set it up using my bank issued debit card. When adding a new card, the camera screen comes up and you just have to align the rectangle with the edges of your card. Then it automatically pulls the information from your card accept for the billing address and security code.

The Google Wallet Card is basically a debit card that is not directly tied to your bank account (unless you choose that option). It allows you to spend directly from your Google Wallet account balance. I transferred some money from my debit card to use a trial. That way you can not spend more than is in your Google Wallet Account. Google also has options to automatically refill your account balance when it dips below to a certain point. This could be used for budgeting or even as a child’s first debit card.

Another great feature of Google Wallet is the ease of sending money between users. Anyone with a Google account can register for a Google Wallet account for free. To send money, you can just simply type in their Gmail address or choose from the contacts in your phone that have a Gmail email address associated with it. It makes it easier to pay friends back if you’re unable to separate checks at a restaurant or bar. There are no fees to send money between users.

Overall, Google Wallet is extremely user friendly. Since this test a few weeks ago, I still find myself using my Google Wallet Card instead of my bank issued debit card for everyday purchases at the local coffee shop or even at parking meters.