Google has updated its support pages and started sending out emails to alert users of Google Wallet to an upcoming change in the way NFC payments work. As of April 14th, tap and pay will require KitKat or higher. Older devices will no longer be supported after that date.


The reason for the change is Google's desire to only use Host Card Emulation (HCE) to make NFC payments work. That feature was introduced in Android 4.4, so it's the end of the line for Jelly Bean and earlier devices. However, this doesn't have any effect on devices that already lack compatibility for HCE like the Galaxy Note 3.

This sounds like an abrupt change, but you have to remember that most carriers didn't permit Google Wallet to access the secure element in older NFC-enabled phones anyway. HCE bypasses the requirement for a secure element, so tap and pay can work on any phone with the right hardware. There are still a handful of affected devices like the Sprint Galaxy Nexus, which has full Wallet support right now and doesn't have official access to KitKat. Otherwise, it shouldn't be too messy. The full text of the email Google is sending out is below for your perusal.

We wanted to let you know about an update to Google Wallet that might change the way you use the 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 April 14, 2014, 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.

We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause and thank you for continuing to be a loyal Wallet user.

If you have any questions, please visit our Help Center.
The Google Wallet Team

[Google Support]

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.

  • culby

    Guess my LG Viper picked the right time to drop dead on me.

  • Fatal1ty_93_RUS

    Well this is uncalled for :/ Why push people towards switching from their current devices that may be stuck on 4.3 forever or for a looong time?

    • Thomas Phillips

      Its a feature that barely anyone uses in the first place, and I would have to assume that a LARGE portion of the people who do use the feature are already on some version of 4.4.

    • h4rr4r

      Install CM11 for your device and be done with it.
      Next time buy a device that gets updates.

      • JPB

        Except CM11 doesn't give you Tap & Pay for all devices either.

        • h4rr4r

          So don't buy BS devices.

  • Eric

    oops.. What about Galaxy Nexus?

    • Ryuuie

      Google no longer supports the Galaxy Nexus so yes. It's not officially updated to Kit Kat anyway.

      • Andrew

        Does anyone know if the KitKat CM ROM for the Galaxy Nexus supports HCE?

        • Asgard

          The MetalOmni (and by definition also the Omni based) ROM for the GNex supports it, I've used wallet a couple of times now, including paying on a vending machine and on a fast food restaurant

        • Simon Belmont

          Yeah, it does. I have CM11 on my G'Nex (now my backup phone as I have a N5) and it works fine.

          I'm pretty sure any KitKat ROM on the G'Nex can make use of HCE. Hope this helps.

        • Andrew Dodd

          Nope. Some firmwares added the HCE permissions XML, but attempting to use HCE will fail when you actually try to pay.

      • h4rr4r

        So install CM11 and be done with it.

        • Ryuuie

          Don't need to. I'm on a Nexus 4 and will be picking up whatever new Nexus they have this year.

          Plus, that's still not official and you can't assume that everyone with a Galaxy Nexus knows how to root, how to put CyanogenMod on, or even what ROMs are.

          • h4rr4r

            Then they likely would just buy a new phone.
            People who don't ROM buy new devices every two years.

          • h4rr4r

            I was saying for people who still have a GN.

            Oh noes not official, where is my fainting couch? Any idiot can look up instructions.

        • Doctor ZIP

          It's not working for Galaxy Nexus. No Tap & Pay item available in setting menu.

  • Ygor Vaz

    Can somebody explain to me the deal with Galaxy Note 3 not supporting HCE? If it's system based, how can it not support it on 4.4? Or is just Samsung's 4.4 version that is locked?

    • Woko


    • SevenPicks

      Try another device next time ;)

      • Ygor Vaz

        I don't have a note 3 ;D Was just wanting to know if it was Samsung's fault like 98% of the time

    • Marcellus1

      The Note 3 cannot use HCE even if its on 4.4 because Google hasn't provided support in Android for HCE on NXP chipsets for NFC and the Note 3 has an NXP chipset.

      There's a thread on XDA about it. Supposedly support is coming in 4.4.3.

      • Marcellus1

        My GS3 also has the NXP chipset. Here's hoping that NXP is supported in 4.4.3, that 4.4.3 is released before 4/14, and that CM 11 updates to 4.4.3 as well by 4/14! LOL. I'd love for all that to happen, but I'm afraid I'm gonna be left in the lurch for a bit while I wait for everything to catch up. I use tap to pay all the time, so I'm gonna miss it. RIP.
        Disclaimer: No, I'm not on Kitkat or CM right now, I'm on stock, rooted 4.1.2, waiting for NXP tap to pay to be supported on kitkat before I update :)

      • Marcellus1

        This may end up as duplicate information--I edited the above post, but my edit is not showing up, so I'll post in a reply here:

        Certain devices like the Moto X and HTC One added their own "closed-source" NXP support for HCE on top of AOSP in order to get tap to pay working. Samsung has yet to implement their own solution in this case. Basically, if you use any AOSP-based KitKat ROM on any NXP NFC chipset device, HCE will not work currently.

        Here is a link to an XDA post about NXP:

        Here is a link to an article about an NXP NFC update:

        • Andrew Dodd

          A bit of bad news on that second article you linked: That is talking about NXP's newer PN547 (which seems rare, I think the Note III might be one of the first devices with a 547).

          The majority of devices with NXP NFC chips are PN544, not PN547.

      • ProductFRED

        However, from what I've heard, the Sprint variant uses a supported chipset (non-NXP, Broadcom if I remember correctly).

      • Casin

        Thankfully it's not the carriers this time. That means there's hope of this being added for Galaxy devices soon. And I think the S4 has a broadcom chip so it may be ok.

        • Laura Steven


          ★★★ ★�★★ ★★★ ★�★★ ★★★I'm pretty sure any KitKat ROM on the G'Nex can make use of HCE. Hope this helps.

        • Andrew Dodd

          You're correct here. The Galaxy S4 uses a Broadcom chip similar to that in the Nexus 4, Nexus 10, 2013 Nexus 7, and Nexus 5

      • William Swartzendruber

        NXP has just added HCE to their driver. I'm guessing April 14 is when Android 4.4.3 releases with this support included. This is how the 2012 Nexus 7 is going to keep Tap and Pay.

  • Adrián Ayllón

    A question to the OP:
    After seeing your battery circle in all your articles...are you using CM or an Xposed Module?

    • Sriram Sridharan

      Looks like CM. I have the same battery circle in CM11 on evita.

    • RyanWhitwam

      It's part of the Gravitybox module for Xposed. Otherwise that's a stock rooted Moto X, but I use the same icon on my N5.

  • Cody Leslie

    I don't care if I lose my Tap and Pay or not, I will NOT use ISIS. I trust our Devs to cook up something promising going forward.

    • Tuấn Ankh

      I'm using isis now cuz it gives me up to $50 a month, lol. It's not too bad.

      • Wyatt Neal

        You go ahead and keep your blood money :)

  • Guest

    edit: nvm, I misread the title

  • William Swartzendruber

    NXP has just added HCE support to their standard NFC driver. My bet is that this appears in Android 4.4.3.

    • Andrew Dodd

      Do you have more info on this? Has NXP posted source anywhere?

      NXP NFC HCE support for the PN544 does exist - see the HTC One GPe and Z Ultra GPe, but the support is not opensource and so is missing from all other devices with NXP chips.

  • Roh_Mish

    It's Google loss.

    • MeCampbell30

      No. It really isn't.

  • Cas

    No problemo. It's not like I urgently need NFC payment at the moment. I plan to wait till HCE more mature and widespread before upgrading my phone OS (or buying a new phone altogether).