- In an expansion of its ties to Google, card company American Express added a new security feature this week for users of Amex’s virtual cards in the U.S., according to a blog post Tuesday by the tech giant. The new arrangement was initially announced last year as part of a broader Google campaign.
- Mountain View, California-based Google launched the effort last year with card issuer Capital One to offer the auto-fill security component to that card issuer’s virtual cards. It kicks in when card customers use Google’s Chrome browser to make a purchase or tap their virtual cards via Google’s Chrome and Android apps.
- The Google feature is also expected to surface later this year for users of virtual cards on the biggest U.S. card network systems, Visa and Mastercard, said a Google spokesperson. Those card networks were part of the announcement that Google made last year.
The Amex feature was disclosed today by Google in the blog post explaining how the virtual card upgrade works. Google is slowly adding the feature across the card universe. Most corporate, commercial and consumer Amex cards used in the U.S. will offer the feature as of this week, the Google spokesperson said.
“Our virtual cards are available to anyone with an eligible Capital One or American Express credit card,” Google said in the blog post. “We’re also working on adding Visa and Mastercard, as well as other major banks.”
The tech company doesn’t receive revenue from the new arrangements, which are aimed at beating back online fraud, said Peeyush Ranjan, who leads Google Pay. The benefit to Google is in making it easier and safer to conduct commerce online using Google tools, he explained in an interview last month.
Google’s “virtual card number” works like this: When card users auto-fill their payment details at checkout using virtual cards via Chrome and Android apps, Google adds another “layer of security” by replacing the actual card number with a unique virtual number. The action eliminates manual entry of the CVV code at checkout and provides an encrypted connection unique to individual merchants.
With the Google service, the tech giant also plays a role in user management of the virtual card details via its web site, offering a portal where the users can access virtual card numbers, review which cards are enabled for the feature and see recent card transactions.
This Google checkout service will help further secure payments online and "create a convenient online shopping experience,” Amex's head of product and digital labs, Lisa Yokoyama, said in an emailed statement. “With more consumers shopping online than ever before, we’re proud to innovate new digital experiences that meet our Card Members both where they are and where they’re going.”
Clarification: The story has been updated to include that the Google feature can be accessed by means other than apps and to note it’s now available on most Amex cards.