Google Wallet card capture

Google Cuts the NFC Cord on Early Android Handsets

Google, Google Wallet, NFC, HCE, KitKat, Android

If you’re not running KitKat then Google Wallet wants nothing to do with you

Google may have pushed the NFC game forward by enabling HCE through the new ‘Tap & Pay’ function bundled with Android 4.4 KitKat, but now the tide seems to be changing. Google has announced that from April 14th it’ll be axing support for ‘Tap & Pay’ on smartphones running Android 4.3 Jelly Bean or lower.

As you can guess, this means that Google Wallet is now useless for mobile NFC payments unless a customer’s phone is running on KitKat. It’s a peculiar move for Google to make, especially as a lot of people are still using Jelly Bean or earlier on their phones. It’s also a strange move because Google Wallet has, for a long time, been a far more accessible mobile wallet for Android phone users – due to coming bundled with the OS software.

It is worth noting that it’s only the NFC feature that’s been disabled here. Customers using Google Wallet on older smartphones can still make payments using it through various other means, transfer money to others, store loyalty cards and points, and make the most of the Google Wallet Card too.

While this is certainly a strange move, it seems to be a reaction from the endorsement of HCE by MasterCard and Visa. While KitKat enables this feature, older versions of Android do not, and therefore are no longer as open and efficient for making NFC payments. Although, it’ll be interesting to see if Google Wallet users believe that.

“We wanted to let you know about an update to Google Wallet that might change the way you use the app,” reads an update on the Google Wallet app. “Right now it looks like you’re using tap and pay with a device running an Android version older than 4.4 KitKat. 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.

“Tap and pay will be available for most devices running Android 4.4 KitKat. If you are able to upgrade to KitKat now, you can check if your device supports tap and pay. Supported devices will display a tile in your “My Wallet” screen that tells you to set up tap and pay. For devices that are not eligible for Android 4.4 KitKat or don’t support tap and pay, you can still use the Google Wallet app to store all of your loyalty cards and offers, send money to your friends, view your orders, and use the Google Wallet Card to make purchases.”

What’s you’re take on Google’s move, is it a smart one, or will it just anger users across the US?
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  1. COAX SS

    it is clear from the article, the not only is google introducing a new service and user experience, but probably a new standard to tighten security around NFC Payment method, while in the process having people upgrade to a new OS unifying and simplifying support.

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