Now that a KitKat build for the Galaxy Note 3 has leaked, people have started reporting new things that they're finding. Though most of the major features of Google's latest Android version are present, the "tap and pay" option is conspicuously absent. Further, it appears host card emulation has been disabled altogether. This is curious given the fact that Isis Mobile Wallet, which is partially backed by AT&T and nowhere to be found on the official Android 4.3 builds, is preinstalled on the leaked firmware.
After two years on the market, Google Wallet has failed to gain any kind of meaningful foothold in the mobile payment world. That's the gist of a new report from Bloomberg Businessweek, slamming Google's mobile and NFC payment service as a "money pit" and unlikely to succeed against existing and upcoming competitors. Among the publication's chief complaints are $300 million in investments and acquisitions, and hundreds of developers on staff, all for less than 10 million downloads in the Google Play Store.
Isis launched its mobile payments platform in Salt Lake City, UT and Austin, TX today, in a limited, initial rollout that's probably best viewed as a tech test more than an NFC payments panacea. We've know for quite some time that these would be Isis' launch markets (after numerous delays), and we also had a basic idea of how the system would work: NFC. What wasn't so widely-known is the fact that Isis uses the SIM secure element method to store payment credentials.
While Google and the ISIS consortium duke it out over the future of Near Field Communication and the payment systems that use it, one of the largest financial institutions in the US had decided to ignore it. Reuters reports that Bank Of America is testing a new system that will only require retailers to display a single image. Ideally this would negate the need for new hardware for both sellers and buyers - all that's required is an Android or iOS device with a camera and a mobile connection.
This morning, Google had a Wallet developer Q&A session on the Google Developers blog, featuring Robin Dua, the product manager for Wallet.
Dua hinted that person to person payments could be headed to Wallet soon, so be on the lookout for that. He also emphasized Wallet's focus on getting small businesses on board with the company's loyalty reward and offer platforms.
More interestingly, when asked in a viewer question why Wallet was only supported on a limited number of carriers, Dua responded that Google was in active negotiations with "a number" of carriers, and that he "hope[d] to have some new partnerships to announce soon." While clearly implying that there is a possibility of failure, the fact that Dua spoke to such negotiations at all is encouraging.
Yesterday, a rumor at the Wall Street Journal stated that major retailers like Walmart, Target, and 7-Eleven were in the process of teaming up to create their own mobile payment solution. They sure didn't waste much time on making it official, as this morning that solution was announced as "MCX" - or, Merchant Customer Exchange. Sexy.
This is a big deal, though. And it's a big deal because of the names in the headline above - quite literally most places where Americans buy things have come together to create a mobile wallet system.
Holy crap - Google Wallet just dropped a bomb on everyone and announced that the service now supports Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover. We sort of suspected something like this would happen, and Google has managed to do it by making Wallet payments partially cloud-based, as opposed to a fully embedded system.
This means Wallet will work offline for the actual payment (it stores an encrypted card ID in the NFC chip), but does require an active internet connection if you want switch payment options or add a new one.
Well, we knew it was a possibility, and given Google Wallet's painfully slow adoption rate (by carriers and payment processors), rumors today from NFCTimes that the service's sole remaining partner Sprint is coming up with an alternative aren't exactly surprising.
NFCTimes says the service will be called "Touch," and will utilize a "secure element" system like Wallet (a physical chip) in order to securely process mobile payments. Likely by necessity, this would mean the end of support for Google Wallet on Sprint handsets released after the launch of the new "Touch" service.
Mobile payment providers. Yeah, I'm already getting a little sleepy thinking about them, too. Let's face it, they're not the most exciting topic in the world, but whenever we talk about how people spend their money, you know there are lots of companies out there eagerly eying the potential of various new payment technologies with great interest. Among such companies are cell phone carriers, and the reason why should be obvious: smartphones with NFC are ideal platforms for next-generation payment systems.
In a rather unfortunate bit of news regarding Verizon's Galaxy Nexus, a rumor that the device will not have support for Google Wallet has been confirmed.
A Google spokesperson confirmed to Computer World today that the hotly anticipated Nexus device won't support Google's burgeoning NFC-based mobile payment system, but gave no word as to why Verizon decided to forego the service.
Verizon's decision could have something to do, however, with Isis – a consortium comprised of VZW, AT&T and T-Mobile, who have paired with four major credit card companies to form their own NFC-based payment venture.