Google will roll out virtual credit cards for Pay on Chrome and Android later this year, in an effort to better protect users’ financial information during online transactions.
Virtual cards are randomly generated 15 or 16 digit numbers that can be used to obscure your true card information when making online payments. The idea is that if a business you transact with has a data breach or suffers a cyberattack, hackers will only be able to swipe your “virtual” number, not your real one. There are a number of companies, like Blur, Stripe, and banks, that provide these kinds of services—often for a price.
If you decide to use Google’s free feature, the new virtual card number will be autofilled to Google Pay during checkout. You’ll be able to customize the feature at pay.google.com, where you can access your virtual card number and also review recent virtual card transactions, the company has shared.
“When you use autofill to enter your payment details at checkout, virtual cards will add an additional layer of security by replacing your actual card number with a distinct, virtual number,” the company said in a press release shared with Gizmodo.
Google has actually offered virtual card numbers before, in a number of different iterations. The dearly departed (but soon to return) Google Wallet offered them, and there are also currently virtual card services through various banks that allow you to load them into Google Pay and other digital wallets.
However, Google’s announcement represents a move to make virtual cards an integrated and easy-to-use part of the Google Pay experience. The company has said that the cards will be available in the U.S. later this summer for Visa, American Express and Capital One. The feature will be also available for Mastercard “later this year,” Google has said.
“Chrome is the first browser to convert any eligible card to a virtual card without needing to install any extensions or supplementary software. No one else today is deploying this technology at this scale,” said a Google representative, in a statement to Gizmodo.