Amex Knocks Google for Misleading Comments About Its Role in Google Wallet

American Express has not formally agreed to participate in Google Wallet, which is why it was surprised yesterday when Google said it, along with Visa, Discover and MasterCard, were now forms of payment in Google’s mobile payments application.

In a blog post, Google announced: “Today we’re releasing a new, cloud-based version of the Google Wallet app that supports all credit and debit cards from Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover.”

But American Express spokesman Brad Minor told AllThingsD that no official agreement has been signed between the two companies, and “they haven’t gotten our approval for the additional use.”

In previous iterations of Google Wallet, including Google Checkout, American Express was an accepted form of payment.

UPDATE: In a statement, a Google spokesperson said, “For many years, we’ve accepted American Express, Visa, MasterCard and Discover for online and mobile transactions. The latest version of Google Wallet extends these same benefits to people who choose to use the Google Wallet app to make purchases in-store. We are in active discussions with American Express and look forward to working together as partners as the world embraces digital payments.”

While technically it is still possible for Google Wallet users to store their American Express card in the Wallet and make payments without an agreement in place, Minor said Amex could shut off the feature if necessary.

A Visa spokesperson confirmed that it does have an agreement with Google. Back in September, Google started licensing Visa’s payWave application to allow account holders to add their Visa credit, debit or prepaid accounts to the Google Wallet.

Likewise, Google has a long-standing relationship with MasterCard, and, in fact, it is MasterCard that is making it possible to store multiple card types in the cloud. When users add a credit or debit card to the Google Wallet mobile app, they will be issued a “virtual” MasterCard card number. As a result, the merchant will never receive your real credit or debit card credentials, but rather be presented with that number from MasterCard.

A Discover spokesperson did not immediately return calls seeking comment.

It is not entirely clear why American Express wouldn’t want to participate in the program; however, the mobile payments field is becoming increasingly competitive, and it has its own efforts under way.

Maybe it just wants it all in writing first.

Larry Page, can you please sign on the bottom line?


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