Google Prepaid Debit Card Takes a Step Back to Move Forward

New Wallet Card gives app users a more traditional way to pay

For a brand known for moving the world forward with new technology, Google took an interesting step back last week. The company unveiled a new physical prepaid debit card that ties into the Google Wallet system. So why move back towards a traditional payment method?

In a word – accessibility. The new debit card allows Wallet users to make purchases and access their funds anywhere you can use a debit card. Prior to the physical card launch, Wallet users were limited to only making purchases at places that had the device that’s needed to read the account information from your phone. Now, you can use the card to pay at places that have a traditional swipe card reader, as well as to withdraw money at ATMs.

Google Wallet is an app originally unveiled by Google in 2011. It’s designed so users can link a bank or credit card to the app and transfer funds into their Wallet. When you want to pay for something, you just swipe your phone in front of a device that reads the screen.

However the issue has always been the limited number of places where you can use the app the way it’s intended. It hasn’t gained enough traction with businesses where you can find the device reader anywhere you want to shop. The physical debit card is Google’s answer to this dilemma.

By going back to a more traditional debit card, Google hopes more users will start using Wallet. In turn, this would prompt more businesses to get on board with the device reader – eventually moving the financial world towards app-based readers instead of traditional card swipe readers.

For consumers who’ve held off getting the Wallet app because of limited accessibility, this is good news. It’s also good for people looking for alternatives to traditional credit cards. Like any prepaid platform – app or card – a prepaid account can help you avoid issues with overspending. You only have a limited amount of cash in your account, so it’s harder to overspend than it is with a traditional open line of credit.