That Google Wallet icon is looking awfully lonely in Android 4.4's Tap and Pay menu. Twin announcements from Visa and MasterCard could finally mean a few more options for NFC payments on Android, though. Both payment technology firms will be providing tools for card issuers to support Host Card Emulation (HCE) on user accounts.


This doesn't mean that all your Visa and MasterCard accounts are going to magically start working with HCE, but some of them might in the not too distant future. Banks will be able to use the specifications published by Visa and MasterCard to create or update apps with HCE support.

Once apps start to appear, you should be able to just go into the Tap and Pay menu to select the payment handler for NFC transactions, but this will only work on devices running Android 4.4 or higher. Visa has already rolled out HCE as part of its updated payWave standard and MasterCard expects to release tools in the first half of the year.

[BusinessWire: 1, 2]

Ryan Whitwam
Ryan is a tech/science writer, skeptic, lover of all things electronic, and Android fan. In his spare time he reads golden-age sci-fi and sleeps, but rarely at the same time. His wife tolerates him as few would.

He's the author of a sci-fi novel called The Crooked City, which is available on Amazon and Google Play. http://goo.gl/WQIXBM

  • Jephri

    More ways to spend my money! Yah!

  • Макаров Илья

    Wow! Nice :3

  • Grahaman27

    Hallelujah- perhaps NFC payments are not dead! (I prefer NFC to any other payment method)

    • Matthew Fry

      Certainly Isis is dead in my eyes.

    • Leif Sikorski

      It's also a huge step for other areas like tickets. The old secure layer was always in the way. There was an article about spanish bus drivers to use nfc for tickets which nailed it pretty well

      "HCE is a game-changing technology for NFC," says technology provider Aditium's Ibai Iturricha. "With HCE we have the chance to develop the whole solution without having to rely on any other party… With the entry of HCE we are free."

      HCE was the last but very important peace in the puzzle of the success of NFC in my opinion. It might be an interesting year.

    • http://www.toysdiva.com Toys Samurai

      IMO, it's on life support and the carriers are responsible for that. Imagine if they didn't block Google Wallet when it launched? Almost all Android phones would be NFC payment capable by now. Instead, they hold up Google Wallet for their own solution, which basically kills off all interests from both the merchant and the consumer side, and encouraging alternative mobile payment methods like Square's tapless method. The Tap & Pay in KitKat is supposedly to fix the carrier block -- but that's horribly late. And, given the speed of how Android OS is updated, by the time most phones on the market are running KitKat and above, it would be 2015 already!

      • Dmitri Smirnov

        You are forgeting the real players in this market. Visa and MasterCard, now those two have been gradually rolling out NFC payments (via NFC cards with secure elements) for a couple of years now. Google's step in HCE direction is just a desperate gesture, since the operators have blocked Google wallet every step of the way, but this gesture opens a whole new horizon of opportunities for all payment providers and screws operators out of their monopoly (ISIS, I'm looking at you, you ugly son of a manager, you).

  • Proioxix

    This is fantastic news. Looking forward to it. Glad I own I Nexus 5 too.

  • Ryan

    why would this be preferable to entering your card info into google wallet and using the card from there?

    • Florian

      google wallet is not available outside of the US, and even in the US (correct me if i am wrong) not all phones have access to it.

      • Ryan

        I know carriers were blocking access to the secure element of the nfc chip, but I thought the new method introduced in kit kat got around that. there's still a lot of phones not running kit kat, but they wouldn't be helped by this either

        sorry, my america-centrism is showing

    • Kylecore

      Because Google wallet itself only works in the U.S.A those of us in Canada and various other places can't actually use it. However by the Visa/Mastercard actually using it, it should theoretically by pass the USA only standard of wallet and allow those with Visa/Mastercards anywhere in any country to partake

    • Alexei Watson

      The purchase goes straight to your card as well, meaning you get your normal credit card securities, proce protection, transaction listings, rewards etc.

      I can't use wallet being in Australia, but I'd assume having your card details in wallet and making a purchase would put a Google wallet type transaction on your card, rather than the merchant.

      • Aaron Jaeger


        You are correct. You basically see something like Goognfc* on your statement. I have not had the chance to call my card issuer to ask if these transactions qualify for the reward categories they belong in.

    • http://turbofool.com Jarrett Lennon Kaufman

      Because I've seen only two registers ever that supported Google Wallet at all: Radio Shack and The Container Store.

      • Sorian

        Wouldn't the physical google wallet card solve this?

        • http://turbofool.com Jarrett Lennon Kaufman

          No, the physical card only draws from your Wallet balance. It can't pull from a card. Also most Visa or MasterCard card benefits only work if purchased directly from the account. Processing intermediaries like PayPal or Wallet invalidate them.

      • CoreRooted

        CVS, Walgreens, McDonalds and Jack in the Box (puke and puke) all support tap-to-pay now. Also, Safeway, Kroger, and some of their affiliates also support it. I use it often at most of these stores.

        • http://turbofool.com Jarrett Lennon Kaufman

          Just did some research. I had been under the impression you could only use it at stations that explicitly stated they supported Wallet. I wasn't aware it actually worked on any others, too, or I would have been using it more. Very nice.

          • Retsu Unohana

            also tons of fast food stores not listed, BP gas stations as well as some random joe blow ones have tap and pay. tons of places use it, if you keep at eye out. 7-eleven also does too. Yes.. what the other guy said is correct. They have tap to pay. I've used them there also.

          • CoreRooted

            Wallet exposes itself as a virtual Mastercard. Google Wallet is accepted anywhere Mastercard PayPass is accepted.


          • http://turbofool.com Jarrett Lennon Kaufman

            Yep, I found that out today. Would have been using it a lot more. Some of the earlier articles on it had made it sound very specific to its own protocol, so I've used it only at the few places with a logo.

        • Robb Nunya

          And Whataburger, if you live in a state that's blessed with them.

          • CoreRooted

            I am "blessed" [read: CURSED] by being in a state that has Whataburger (Arizona).

          • Robb Nunya

            Puh Leeze. Best fast food chain out there. The Taquito may be the perfect food (At midnight at least) and their burgers actually taste like burgers. Beats the hell out of the other guys, In N Out included... (Nasty-ass chalk flavored fries and stupid hidden menu that gets you thousand island.... bleh)

      • axel

        You can use this app to find places where you can use Tap and Pay

  • Jephri

    The main sticking point for my dream of having my entire wallet on my phone is my state ID. I just can't imagine the government allowing digital drivers licenses anytime soon.

    • Cj

      Leave it home ... you have 24hrs to produce it if needed :P

      • http://www.twitter.com/ninjustin ninjustin

        Because that's going to be fun if you get pulled over or any situation that a police officer asks you for it.

        • yieldway17

          Well, mostly USA is the only big country which asks you to keep license with you when driving. Most other countries allows to produce it in court or police station within certain number of days (1 week - 3 weeks) and avoid a fine.

          • http://www.twitter.com/ninjustin ninjustin

            Well in the USA you'd also need it if you wanted to buy alcohol or many cold medications. Even if you have an ID from another state here sometimes bars and stores go nuts and call in a manager. It's silly.

            More Cases need to be designed to carry cards imho.

          • Guest

            When I went to Mass on a business trip, the town we stayed in which was mostly hotels had liquor stores who would not accept out of state IDs, even though we were all clearly over 21.

          • Ryan

            Guess it depends on the state and/or business. Like, I'll take any ID as long as its a valid Government issued ID or something. Course, doesn't help some people get up in arms over it even though, by law, I'm required to check for ID on alcohol and tobacco..

    • perfectlyreasonabletoo

      Keep it in your car, what's the worst that could happen.

  • selonmoi

    My bank's app is a crummy mobile Web site with old-style iOS-looking widgets, wrapped in a native shell that consists of nothing more than a three-button action bar. Yet it still manages to break innumerable Android design conventions. Should I start holding my breath now?

    Or maybe Google will finally notice the giant but friendly land-mass to the north and actually make Wallet available in Canada?

    I'm guessing my wallet won't be shrinking any time soon.

    • Mayoo

      Wow, I think I am using this one daily now ...

    • Oobiewan

      Greetings from Eastern Europe...

      • bob

        Greetings from eastern planet

    • CerealFTW

      What's a Canada?

    • Dave

      I too use ING Direct.

      • mattmoss

        That sucks, ING Direct in Australia has a fully native app with holo-like design. And it works really well.

        • iSadic™

          ING Direct Italy as well...only missing thing is the pre-paid card management.

      • selonmoi

        Well, played. I wasn't actually talking about ING Direct, but I think we could probably say the same about every bank in Canada.

        Actually, strike that. Some probably still don't even use an action bar.

  • Izzy

    what credit cards worked before this? nothing?

    • Aaron Jaeger

      Google Wallet supports all VISA, MasterCard, AMEX, and Discover cards. Now VISA and MasterCard are doing it themselves without Google's help.

      • Izzy

        i thought so. thanks for the clarifications. i haven't used google wallet since they changed the format and sent me a mastercard with my balance, this article confused me tho cos' i thought it was about google wallet.

    • Baron Von J

      To follow-up on Aaron's reply, this means the Chase/CitiBank/WellsFarto/etc apps will directly receive the NFC tap and authorize the transaction directly with the issuing bank instead of going through an intermediary service (Google Wallet).

  • usaff22

    Please HSBC! Why can't Visa just create an app that works with all of their credit cards, pretending it's just a normal credit/debit card?

  • deltatux

    Canadians also want Google Wallet. It's stupid that even though you can add any credit card, it won't work in Canada since it's been blocked from Canadian addresses or IP addresses. This is stupid! Hope the Schedule I banks in Canada will pick up the slack from Google and allow any credit cards to be added on to NFC tap.

    • MeCampbell30

      Fix you consumer credit laws.

      • perfectlyreasonabletoo

        "Fix" our consumer credit laws... the ones that largely insulated us from the worldwide economic collapse your credit laws created. Hmm...

        • MeCampbell30

          Either that or don't complain about getting stuff late.

  • Amaziah Alipio

    Will this work in countries other than the US?

    • http://www.Nave360.com Sebastian Gorgon

      when Google decides to stick their head out of their ass for once. US gets everything, Chromecast, Google Fibre, Google Wallet, ugh.

      • Robb Nunya

        Well... it IS an American company...

  • tym0

    I don't get why you would want to use your phone to pay if your card already use nfc, I mean you're always gonna have your card In your pocket anyway. I guess it's more interesting for American who have a million different cards.

    • Nick

      Almost no debit or credit cards in America have NFC built in.

      • Walkop

        All of em' do in Canada!

  • http://the-jade-domain.com Jaime J. Denizard

    Is Wallet still being blocked in rooted phones?