Google Wallet Reactivates Prepaid Card Provisioning

As Mobile Marketing Watch reported Tuesday, word recently surfaced that Google’s mobile wallet commerce platform is vulnerable to potential criminal attacks from hackers who have figured out how to gain access to the Google prepaid card already linked to a user’s smartphone. The discovery was of such grave and immediate concern that over the weekend a Google representative “strongly encouraged” anyone who “loses or wants to sell their phone to first call Google Wallet support to disable the prepaid card.”

On Monday, Google temporarily disabled provisioning of prepaid cards. “We took this step,” Google said, “as a precaution until we issue a permanent fix soon.“

Well, this morning, Google fans awakened to the news that the Internet search giant has restored prepaid card provisioning capabilities to the mobile payments platform. How come? Google says it has successfully addressed the underlying vulnerability and hack attacks can now be successfully averted.

“Yesterday afternoon, we restored the ability to issue new prepaid cards to the Wallet,” VP of Google Wallet and Payments Osama Bedier says. “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.”

“Google Wallet is protected by a PIN–as well as the phone’s lock screen, if a user sets that option,” Bedier adds. “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.”

“We will learn much more as we continue to develop Google Wallet,” Bedier concludes. “In the meantime, you can be confident that the digital wallet you carry provides defenses that plastic and leather simply don’t.”

Do you feel better about using Google’s mobile payment solution in response to the steps taken? Please weigh in with a thought or comment below.