Discover Card on Thursday became the first credit card issuer to implement Google's new Save to Wallet API for Payment Cards, computer code that provides credit card companies with the tools to offer customers an easy way to import credit cards into Google Wallet.
The API allows Discover Card to create an "Add Your Card" button on its Discover account management Web page. When a customer clicks on the button, it prompts a Google Account sign-in, and that adds the customer's Discover card to Google Wallet, without the friction of having to type in an account number.
This simplified card import mechanism was made possible by Google's release two weeks ago of a cloud-based Google Wallet app that supports all credit and debit cards.
Making Google Wallet available beyond a specific mobile device, and with a more diverse set of potential cards, allows users to shop with Google Wallet either in-store or online. The move to the cloud shifts the security risk: Losing one's phone with Google Wallet should prompt fewer worries because payment card numbers are now stored on Google servers rather than on the user's mobile phone.
[ Apple needs another revolutionary product line. Read Apple's iPad Mini: Less Is Less Interesting. ]
As an additional cloud-based protection, Google added a way to remotely disable payments from a specific mobile device.
Google declined to provide details about the number of people using Google Wallet. "We're enthusiastic about the progress we're making with Google Wallet," a Google spokeswoman said in an emailed statement. "We continue to work hard to build our partner ecosystem to make it possible for everyone to pay with Google Wallet, in-store or online."
Mobile payment technology is an area of intense competition at the moment, despite lack of consumer interest or perhaps because of it--there's no dominant player. Startups, technology companies, financial companies, and telecom companies are all racing to popularize their way to make electronic payments with mobile devices.
Wednesday, Best Buy, Target, and Walmart announced the formation of a company called Merchant Customer Exchange, or MCX, that will make an app for mobile payments similar to Google Wallet.
Square, which competes with Google Wallet, recently struck a significant deal with Starbucks, one of the more successful merchants with regard to mobile payments.
Apple is expected to augment its answer to Google Wallet, iOS 6's Passbook app, with NFC technology in its forthcoming iPhone 5.
Juniper Research predicts that global mobile payment revenue will increase fivefold in the next five years, reaching $1.3 trillion by 2017.
Google's interest in payments goes beyond Google Wallet. The company also is planning to introduce redeemable gift cards for its Google Play store. The Android news website Android Police identified references to the gift cards in the latest Google Play Store .apk file (v3.8.15).
Apple has offered iTunes Store gift cards and certificates for almost 10 years.