Google Chrome will shake banks with its virtual bank card generator

On the occasion of its I / O 2022 conference, Google has just unveiled “Virtual Cards”, a service that generates a temporary card number so you can pay online without communicating your real details. Only Google knows the real numbers.

Let’s be honest, we all feel a little scared when a website asks us for our bank details. Although services provide protection (PayPal, Apple Pay, Google Pay, etc.), there are still many e-commerce platforms that require your debit card numbers to place an order. Given the prevalence of fraud and all that we can hear everywhere, it is not uncommon to be scared. Will we be hacked by entering our contact information? Is the site genuine? How to counteract in the event of a problem? The questions are many.

Some banks are responding to this problem with a so-called “e-credit card” system. Generally charged a little over 10 euros a year (or included in bank fees), it allows you to go to a website to generate a unique bank card that is only valid for a certain amount. In case of hacking, the cybercriminal can do nothing, the card does not work. It just so happens that this service inspired Google, which, at its I / O Developer Conferenceannouncement Virtual mapsits own competitor to the e-credit card.

Virtual maps can change everything

In our view, virtual cards are not just a competitor to virtual bank cards. Why ? Simply because it is integrated with Google Chrome, the most used browser on the planet, and therefore almost transparent to users.

Let’s take the example of the Caisse d’Epargne service, which forces its customer to identify themselves on a particular website and fill out a form to generate a fake preliminary card. This is not practical at all, especially since you then have to copy and paste the coordinates manually. Google wants to make the generation of fake cards simple, automatic and free. All you have to do is click a button.

Specifically, when a website asks you for your banking information, the “Use a virtual card on the screen” option appears. Google, which must register your real bank card in advance, will show an animation that reveals the transformation of the numbers. Fake coordinates will be sent to the seller site, but Google will charge the correct amount. In the end, Google will be your only bank contact. The others will no longer be able to track you.

Virtual cards show an animation when it changes your banking information.  // Source: Google
Virtual cards show an animation when it changes your banking information. // Source: Google

Unfortunately, virtual cards have one big flaw: it launches first in the US (like many banking services, the Apple card can attest). Since all American Visa, American Express and Capital One cards are compatible (Mastercards will arrive at the end of 2022), it is conceivable that Google will be able to easily adapt its service to Europe. In the meantime, it gives banks a few months to improve their system, why not with browser extensions?

A hidden way to tax Google Pay?

What surprises us with virtual cards is that the service directly overshadows Google Pay, Google’s mobile payment solution, available on all Android smartphones equipped with an NFC chip. Since the service works with all cards, why bother setting up Google Pay when virtual cards will work everywhere?

We asked Google about the topic, which tells us that they want to leave the choice to the user. Once his card is registered for the first time (even if it is not compatible with Google Pay), then it will work with virtual cards on all sites. What should Google Pay be used for when launching virtual maps everywhere? Probably contactless payment outside, but that’s all. Google takes the risk of cheating its payment solution, but let’s be honest, it has never had the same success as Apple Pay or PayPal.

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