Are you saying this wouldn't have occurred if only app purchases could be done by magically sending cash over the intertubes?
I agree with BarefootMonkey:
- with actual money (and all its electronic imitations, like gift cards, bitcoin, etc.), the control can't be delegated to someone else. Either you have the token, and you decide to spend it. Or you give the token to someone else, and that someone has 100% control on whatever happens to that token (spend it, keep it for later, etc.), but can't do anything about the other tokens still in you pockets.
- with credit cards (and all electronic equivalent, like TFA's google wallet), you give credential to someone else (kid, google, app, whatever), and that someone has suddenly full power to take AS MUCH money as possible until the blocking limit of the credit card. You give a kid the card so the kid can buy a 1.99$ app, but then with the same card, the kid can also buy 200$ worth of in-game bonus.
So indeed, with a cash-equivalent (like a gift card), this situation wouldn't have happened.
Possible way would be:
* Purchase limit. Currently only a timer keeps user logged in (30 seconds). Google could easily implement a "spend" limit (after 20$, CC owner needs to log-in again, no matter if we're only 2sec. into the 30 sec. timer).
* Gift card. Parents buy electronic coupons for 20$ to their kid and let the kid have fun. Once the kid has used up the coupon, well sorry kiddo, you used all your money. ( - This actually helps the kid realise better how things work with cash flow. The kid can notice that there is a limited amount, and that it runs up)
* Cryptocurrencies. I'm not kidding. Bitcoin and co were actually developed exactly for that, exactly to introduce cash-like behaviour. Except for security compromises, bitcoins can't vanish out of your wallet software without your intervention (just like cash can't jump out of your pocket unless a thief is involved).
If you transmit bitcoins to someone else, that someone has full power over them (as noticed by some suckers who left all their coins in exchanges or other on-line wallets that vanished afterward), but can't do anything about those still inside your software wallet.
The only difference with gift cards are:
- gift cards are generally controlled by a single entity which decide over them and handles them. and usually (but not always) they map to actual currency (in some shops, you get a gift card for 20$. But in other shops you get a card for 2000 points, that you paid for 20$, but perhaps later you'll end-up acquiring 25$ worth of goods).
- bitcoins (BTC, the coins) are used on the bitcoin protocol that is distributed. Nobody centrally controls it, anyone is free to jump in and join the party, as long as they follow the protocol (saddly, the lack of regulation means that any crook could do it too. hence all the bitcoin powered scams). And the vlue of BTC are on a roller coaster (meaning that, although it works very well as a mean to "magically send cash over the intertubes", it does a poor job at storing value over time)