Feb 14, 2012

How much will the security flaws in Google Wallet set back the transition to "digital wallets"?

The security flaw in Google Wallet apparently would allow pretty much anyone with access to your phone, once they got through the screen lock (if it is even used), to gain access to the contents of your prepaid Google card. I'm not sure how many people are using Google Wallet at this point, but this story has made the news on lots of tech sites and mainstream media outlets today. There is always a challenge to get a new method of payment or money management accepted. My grandparents still look at ATM cards with suspicion, and they've been around for what, 20 years. Will news of a security flaw set back attempts to move away from wallets and paper money to smartphone based transactions utilizing NFC (Near Field Communication)?

I think it might make people more cautious, and less inclined to try it. I don't use such things and, frankly, I have no interest in them. Each time a situation like this happens, the media will blare scary headlines and people will think that these sorts of services are dangerous and unsafe.

Eventually though, as time goes by and things get better and more polished, people will probably start using them. That's going to be a while though and, in the meantime, a lot of people will simply remain spectators and watch to see how these things are developed.

Somebody will come out with one that will be a winner though, it's just a matter of time.

Well, here is the thing.  The security flaw, at least as I understand it, allowed access to the funds in the Google Prepaid card IF, (and this is a big if) the owner lost the device AND (this is a big and) the owner didn't lock the screen.  In other words, just like you lost your wallet with cash and credit cards in it, and a miscreant pick it up and take advantage of it.  Sure that isn't ideal, but I'm not freaking out at my wallet manufacturer any more than I'm freaking out at Google over this.  I just don't consider it a major issue.  It requires two missteps from the owner to even expose the flaw to exploitation.  


I won't be surprised if this does slow down the move towards smartphone-as-a-wallet, even though I personally don't consider it a huge flaw.  Any increased focus on security is probably a positive development during this transitional period.  I hope that news of this flaw doesn't frighten off too many merchants and users from the digital wallet concept.  


Google wallet have become famous and users use it a lot these ,this is bad that many users are affected from it.

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