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Google ditching Wallet prepaid card support on Oct. 17

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Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) will discontinue its branded prepaid card on Oct. 17, saying it has outlived its usefulness now that the Google Wallet contactless payment application supports all credit and debit cards.

When the Near Field Communications-based Google Wallet first launched in May 2011, Google Prepaid Card support enabled consumers to fund their digital account from almost any payment card. Last month, Google rolled out a cloud-based Wallet supporting all credit and debit cards from Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover--after a card is added, Google partner Bancorp Bank issues a Google Wallet Virtual Card linked to the consumer's account. When the user makes an in-store purchase, Google Wallet processes the merchant payment via the virtual card, and then charges the amount of the original purchase to the selected debit or credit card.

"Google Wallet itself is not changing--only the Google Prepaid Card will be impacted," reads a Google FAQ on the Prepaid Card program termination. "All your credit and debit cards in your Google Wallet will continue to work normally. The only change you'll notice is the elimination of the Google Prepaid Card from your Google Wallet on October 17, 2012."

Google goes on to encourage users with Google Prepaid Card fund balances to spend that money before the shutoff date. Consumers who are unable to empty their balance by Oct. 17 can request a refund from Google Prepaid Card servicer Money Network. Google said it will post full refund details on the FAQ site next month.

Google adds that it will not restore the prepaid card to Wallet in the event the app is reset between now and Oct. 17. Consumers can recover any remaining funds by contacting Money Network.

Google Wallet enables consumers to make purchases by tapping their Android smartphone at more than 200,000 MasterCard PayPass-enabled merchant terminals across the U.S. Google Wallet also includes support for SingleTap, which allows users to redeem coupons and/or earn rewards points, as well as Featured Offers, which spotlights exclusive discounts from select retailers.

Although Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) offers a handful of NFC-enabled Android smartphones supporting Google Wallet, Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ), AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) and T-Mobile USA have shunned the service as they focus on building out their own nationwide m-commerce network, Isis, which is slated to begin consumer trials this month. Reports also indicate Sprint is planning its own rival contactless payment initiative, casting doubt on how Google Wallet fits into its plans moving forward.

For more:
- read this ZDNet article

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