Is Google Pay safe? A payments expert weighs in

Today’s digital payments landscape continues to become more innovative and convenient. We’re now able to simply wave our phones around to make purchases — it’s like magic!

What’s really at play is technology, of course. Google Pay is one example of this type of technology, but sometimes consumers are apprehensive about the security of such financial transactions. And that leads to the common question: Is Google Pay safe?

“Consumers tend to be skeptical about new technology in general,” says Monica Eaton-Cardone, a payments expert and founder of Chargebacks911, a platform dedicated to helping merchants combat payment fraud.

“That’s not necessarily a bad thing — fraud, identity theft, and other types of cybercrime are unfortunate realities and talked about in the media. This causes people to be hesitant about using products like Google Pay.”

However, Eaton-Cardone notes that the biggest driver behind the hesitation is a lack of understanding. Digital payment services are still relatively new, and people want to know how they work.

The instructions for using Google Pay are simple — tap your phone on the checkout terminal, and Google handles the transaction for you — “but that doesn’t really explain how the product works,” says Eaton-Cardone.

“When consumers push for a better answer, they usually hear something like this: ‘It stores all your credit card information so you don’t need to carry a wallet.’ When it’s put that way, even proponents of the product have to admit that it doesn’t sound very safe,” she says.

This leads to other consumer questions:

  • What if someone steals my phone or I lose it? Will someone gain access to all my card data?
  • If a card terminal can read my phone without physical contact, why couldn’t a fraudster?

“These are all fair questions; in fact, consumers should make these sorts of inquiries about any new type of personal technology,” Eaton-Cardone explains. “Google has addressed these issues, of course, but if the consumer doesn’t understand what’s being shared, it’s reasonable for them to remain concerned.”

So, is Google Pay safe? Keep reading to see Eaton-Cardone’s verdict and reasoning.

Is Google Pay safe?

“No technology is going to be completely safe. There are always going to be hackers, and tech is only ‘unhackable’ until somebody hacks it,” Eaton-Cardone explains. “That said, professionals within the financial industry generally regard Google Pay as safe — certainly safer than swiping a card or keying in your information.”

The biggest reason for this is that Google Pay doesn’t actually transmit users’ information during a transaction. Instead, all payments made with the app rely on virtual card numbers — coded tokens that represent the actual account information.

The token is unique in that it will only work for that purchase, from that merchant, using that credit card. Even so, Google goes out of its way to keep the token safe too. Everything within the process is encrypted from both ends, and any information Google has is stored on its secured, encrypted servers.

Eaton-Cardone says this is the same way EMV chip cards work: The transaction is conducted using a temporary number that will only work for that purchase. Even if someone somehow captures the number, it will be meaningless — it can’t be traced back to personal data. So for a consumer, any hack that somehow did occur wouldn’t require them to get a new card.

“The technology is even safer if the cardholder implements all the safeguards that Google recommends, including two-factor authentication on phones or other portable devices,” says Eaton-Cardone.

Google Pay also employs near field communication (NFC) for in-store transactions. Eaton-Cardone says NFC is considered more secure than other transmission methods because data is only broadcast an inch or two from the device.

“To ensure information on your phone is secure, Google Pay requires that your screen be set to automatically lock. If the screen lock is disabled, your account details will be removed from Google Pay.”

How can you provide safe and convenient payments for your customers?

The simple answer is to combine Jotform and Google Pay. Jotform is a powerful form builder that you can use to collect information and payments from customers. Build your checkout experience using one of our 900+ customizable order form templates and then integrate the form with Google Pay so customers can make purchases with their mobile phones.

This article is originally published on Jan 02, 2023, and updated on Jan 25, 2023.

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