Is Google Wallet getting ready to open up to more devices after the release of KitKat?

October 30, 2013
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Nexus 5 press imageShortly after the Nexus 7 (2013) debuted, it came to light that the device lacked support for Google’s NFC-based Wallet service. The problem was that it’s BCM20793M NFC chip didn’t have the secure element in it that is used by Google Wallet to store payment information.

Now thanks to some digging by a Reddit user by the name ‘aohus’, it has been discovered that the previously leaked Nexus 5 service manual supposedly indicates the very same NFC chip is making its way to Google’s latest Nexus handset.

While it’s one thing for a tablet to not support Google Wallet, it seems crazy that Google’s flagship smartphone wouldn’t support Google’s own payment platform. This means that the leaked manual is either incorrect or something big is about to happen to Google Wallet.

If the LG Nexus 5 really uses the BCM20793M chip, it  is very likely that Google is either canning support for Wallet altogether, or the company is changing up the way Wallet works. We can’t imagine that Google would ditch Wallet at this point, so we lean towards the latter.

What kind of change are we talking about? The only way that the BCM20793M chip will work is if the secure element is no longer required. As it turns out, Google recently filed a patent for such a system.

If the LG Nexus 5 really uses the BCM20793M chip, it pretty much means that Google is either canning support for Wallet altogether, or the company is changing up the way Wallet works.

Right now we can’t say for sure that Google is preparing to remove the secure element requirement for Google Wallet, but if it does, this could mean that just about any device with NFC could soon work with the service – no root required.

As far as carrier’s attempts to keep Google Wallet from becoming a standard?

Most complaints have centered around the secure element and its alleged ‘security concerns’. If Google has found a reliable way to make Google Wallet work without the element, it sounds like it would be tough for carriers to shut this one down.

Of course it’s important to point out that we really have no proof that Google is making any change, we also can’t say with 100% certainty that the Nexus 5 will really feature the BCM207393M NFC chip. In other words, speculation is advised.

That said, a previous Android 4.4 screenshot did list something called “Tap & Pay”, which could suggest that Google payment integration is coming to KitKat. If true, it would make sense for Google to increase the number of phones that support this functionality.

Up until now, NFC payments have been a cool idea sees limited, fragmented support at best. With Android 4.4 KitKat, this may finally start to change.

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