2/10/12

Protecting your payments with Google Wallet

Over the last few days we've received questions and concerns about issues related to the security of Google Wallet. People are asking if Google Wallet is safe enough for mobile phone payments. The simple answer to this question is yes. In fact, Google Wallet offers advantages over the plastic cards and folded wallets in use today.

First, Google Wallet is protected by a PIN — as well as the phone’s lock screen, if a user sets that option. But sometimes users choose to disable important security mechanisms in order to gain system-level “root” access to their phone; we strongly discourage doing so if you plan to use Google Wallet because the product is not supported on rooted phones. That’s why in most cases, rooting your phone will cause your Google Wallet data to be automatically wiped from the device.

Second, we also take concrete actions to help protect our users. For example, to address an issue that could have allowed unauthorized use of an existing prepaid card balance if someone recovered a lost phone without a screen lock, tonight we temporarily disabled provisioning of prepaid cards. We took this step as a precaution until we issue a permanent fix soon.

And just like with any other credit card, you can get support when you need it. We provide toll-free assistance in case you lose your phone or someone manages to make an unauthorized transaction.

Mobile payments are going to become more common in the coming years, and we will learn much more as we continue to develop Google Wallet. In the meantime, you can be confident that the digital wallet you carry provides defenses that plastic and leather simply don’t.

Update [February 14, 2012 / 8:30 pm PST]:

Yesterday afternoon, we restored the ability to issue new prepaid cards to the Wallet. In addition, we issued a fix that prevents an existing prepaid card from being re-provisioned to another user. While we’re not aware of any abuse of prepaid cards or the Wallet PIN resulting from these recent reports, we took this step as a precaution to ensure the security of our Wallet customers. If you are unable to access your previous prepaid card balance for any reason, please contact our toll-free support for assistance.

Posted by Osama Bedier, Vice President, Google Wallet and Payments

26 comments:

  1. So now I can't provision my phone because I reset it...great! :-(

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for your comment. Yes, we’ve temporarily stopped the provisioning of new prepaid cards until we issue a permanent fix. You can still provision your Citi Mastercard into Google Wallet.

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  2. Why don't you add back the ability to add a new prepaid card Google!!! Let it be up to us whether we accept the risks with these exploits or not. For anyone who doesn't have a Citi card, you have rendered this app USELESS. That's entirely unacceptable. Now I don't have access to the funds in my Wallet! I sincerely hope you fix this immediately! Shame on you Google.

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    1. Thank you for your feedback. We’re working hard on a fix. Keep in mind that if you have an existing prepaid card in your Wallet, you can still add funds to it and use it as you normally would.

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  3. Can't you just require to lock the phone if Wallet is installed?

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for your comment. We encourage users to use the phone’s lock screen to protect their information. However, we leave this up to users to implement.

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  4. The people that are loosing out on the are the ones that take measures to protect themselves such as locking their phone and use a "Wipe" application in case their phone is stolen.
    I work in an office that is open to the public and you would be surprised how many people leave their cell phones laying out in the open on their desks. These are the ones that are vulnerable.
    A good strong warning when the Wallet is first signed into with some suggestions on how to protect yourself is all that should be needed, then its up to you.
    My phone is rooted by choice, I know the risks. I also know the risks of using Google Wallet. I am not a child and don't wish to be treated like one.

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    1. Thanks for your feedback. As of Monday, all active prepaid cards are functioning normally. Please see the update to our blog post for more details.

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    2. not all cards are functioning properly. for those like Pegasus and myself who for one reason or another may or may not have reset the app within its settings, we still cannot re-add our prepaid card. because of this we are losing numerous opportunities to use such a fantastic app which I at least have grown to love.......WHEN IT WORKED.

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    3. Thanks for your feedback. If you are unable to access your previous prepaid card balance for any reason, please contact our toll-free support for assistance at http://support.google.com/wallet/bin/request.py?contact_type=contact_policy&policy=mobile&test=country-US&.

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    4. i was told in a 2 emails and I have read from a few users that they also were told a fix for those that cannot re-add their prepaid card by the end of next week. is there any valid truth to this?

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    5. While we can’t comment on exact timing, I can confirm that we’re working on this now and will have an update to share soon.

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  5. I'm probably missing some obvious technical or regulatory limitation, but why isn't Google Wallet PIN verification done inside the Secure Element? Isn't that the whole point of secure (wallet) applications?

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  6. So is this just an update on the server end or an update to the Wallet app?

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  7. My prepaid card says I have a small balance, but under User ID - "User ID unavailable" Tapping the "Show ID" button doesn't change it.

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    1. The 'User ID unavailable' error most likely means that you don’t have a network connection. We suggest trying again once you ensure that you have connectivity. Also, you can confirm your balance by calling Money Network, and you can find more information about Google Prepaid Card funds at http://support.google.com/wallet/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=1349463&topic=1349429&ctx=topic.

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  8. After having to reset my phone, the prepaid card says it is unavailable. I contacted your toll free support and assistance and they sent me the following in an email:

    "I understand that you have been unable to provision your Google Prepaid
    Card and I sincerely apologize for the inconvenience this has caused you.

    While we have restored the ability to issue new prepaid cards to Google
    Wallet, we have temporarily disabled Google Prepaid Card provisioning on a
    device that has previously had a Google Prepaid Card on it. This is to
    ensure the security of our users and we are working to restore full
    functionality as soon as possible. This process will take approximately
    two weeks."

    However, above you stated on the 15th:
    "Thanks for your feedback. As of Monday, all active prepaid cards are functioning normally. Please see the update to our blog post for more details."

    My prepaid card is certainly not functioning normally, and I am unable to access the funds that were on it. Can you please clarify if this problem will be fixed in the next couple weeks or should it already be fixed?

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    1. Thanks for your comment. If your card is already provisioned and active, you should be able to use it as normal. However if you're trying to add a new prepaid card or a prepaid card that you had previously provisioned to Google Wallet, you cannot do so at this time, per the response you received from the support team.

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  9. Hey I just got my Nexus and I get a message that both Citi and Prepaid is not available due to planned system upgrades. When do you estimate these will be back up?

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    1. We’re not able to share exact timing, but the upgrade should not take long. We recommend checking back this weekend.

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  10. Still not able to add my existing prepaid card back onto my phone. "Planned system upgrades" message.

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    1. Thanks for your comment. The system upgrade is complete and we’ve turned on the ability to re-provision prepaid cards.

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  11. i find it interesting how a new message is around saying prepaid is simply unavailable and to try again soon. and to make it better, you are now pinpointing rooted devices with a nice little banner across the top.

    care to enlighten us on the exact meaning of that, are you alienating those who root their device or is it a simple warning that you will not support them (they are putting themselves at more of a risk)

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    1. Thanks for your comment. It is not our intention to alienate users. The banner serves as a simple reminder that Google Wallet is not supported on devices with unauthorized operating systems, as the security layers of the device may be limited.

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  12. Hello, I used Google Wallet for a while, but then my phone had a software problem so I was forced to reset. I had no idea my Google Wallet wouldn't work anymore and now I am very upset. On my Prepaid, I had about $150 remaining and I just completely lost it. I've been waiting for someone to help or for Google to put out an update to fix it, but yet, it's weeks since I haven't been able to use Prepaid and I am very angry. Please respond with some sort of help as I would like to actually use my money.

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    1. Thanks for your comment. We’ve turned on the ability to re-provision prepaid cards so you will have access to all of your funds--once you re-provision the card to your Google Wallet. If you continue to experience issues, please contact our support team: http://support.google.com/wallet/bin/request.py?contact_type=contact_policy&policy=mobile&test=country-US&

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