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Google Wallet kills support for NFC payments in pre-KitKat handsets

18 March 2014  |  11098 views  |  6 Google wallet card

Google Wallet is hastening the migration to Host Card Emulation by killing off support for contactless payments in handsets that don't run the latest KitKat Android operating system.

In a brief notice, the search giant says that from 14 April devices with Android versions older than KitKat will no longer be supported for tap and pay.

Google introduced support for SIM-based NFC payments as far back as 2010 but the technology's reliance on cooperation from telcos - which was not forthcoming - hampered Wallet uptake.

Late last year Google moved to bypass the telcos by introducing support for HCE, a cloud-based mechanism for hosting NFC applications outside the Secure Element. Now the firm is cutting off all support for SIM-based payments.

In an e-mail to customers published by DroidLife, Google says: "On the newest version of Android, tap and pay works with different technology for an improved experience. As a result, starting on A​p​r​i​l 1​4, 2​0​1​4, tap and pay will no longer work for devices with older Android versions."

Last month Visa and MasterCard followed Google and put their considerable weight behind HCE in a move that is widely predicted to give mobile NFC payments the push it needs into the mainstream.

KeywordsEFTPOS

Comments: (6)

Matt Scott
Matt Scott - NCR Corporation - London | 18 March, 2014, 11:44

I think the article title is misleading - HCE will still use NFC as an interface choice for contactles payment transactions.  Stop NFC-bashing!

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Andrew Smith
Andrew Smith - CloudZync - London | 18 March, 2014, 16:51

NFC is a great technology, IMHO it just doesnt fit well with payments. Google has had a hard history with NFC to date, and they are now pinning all their Wallet hopes on HCE in the hope of getting Wallet available on other networks and not just Sprint.

The problem is for HCE and NFC in general, is that it adds nothing to the merchant proposition at all, unless you implement a bespoke wallet or merchant offering wrapping HCE, but then you loose all the arguments over distribution for consumers...

As a small business owner, I would not be looking to NFC based payments for mobile, I would be looking at something that adds value back to my business and customer experiences, and something that saves me money...

 

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Murray Chapman
Murray Chapman - Zestex Computing Limited - Amersham | 19 March, 2014, 06:56 As a small business owner I wouldn't care - it'd be the same experience as with a contact less card.
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Matt White
Matt White - Finextra - Toronto | 19 March, 2014, 10:33

@Matt: I don't see how the headline is misleading. From April handsets running anything older than Android 4.4 won't be able to make contactless payments from Google Wallet.

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Daniel Eckstein
Daniel Eckstein - Abrantix AG - Zurich | 25 March, 2014, 07:37

I think this is good news and hope that other smart phone manufaturer also start to support this technology. This could be a major game changer in the "wallet business". And anyway, SE (Secure Element) will still be supported.

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Andrew Smith
Andrew Smith - CloudZync - London | 25 March, 2014, 08:35

SE will not be supported on older Android devices, that's the story here...

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