Have you ordered your Google Wallet physical card yet? If you having been using the Wallet tap and pay feature on an Android 4.3 or older device, now might be the time to order up that card. Google has announced that Wallet tap and pay functionality will be turned off for all Android 4.3 and older devices starting April 14, 2014.
All other features of the Wallet app will continue to operate, it is only the tap and pay functionality that is getting cut. We talked about the potential future of NFC on Android 4.4 KitKat a while back, looks like Google is making true on some of that now. The official announcement can be found on the Google Wallet product forum.
Android 4.3 and older NFC enabled devices that support tap and pay use a combination of software and hardware to keep payments secure. A separate chip on your device, or on your SIM card, acts as a secure element ensuring a secured NFC transaction. With Android 4.4 KitKat, Google launched a software solution called host-based card emulation. Host-based card emulation allows the NFC transaction to be secured in between the cpu and an app, such as Wallet, without the extra hardware chip.
The host-based card emulation process is only supported on Android 4.4 (and up.) The old secure element function is being shutdown, which will kill tap and pay functionality for all pre-4.4 devices, on April 14, 2014.
The good news is that the transition from hardware dependency to software solution means that if you can get your NFC equipped device updated to KitKat, you should be able to keep tapping your money away. And if that doesn’t work, go ahead and order up your physical Google Wallet card – I know it lacks that cool factor, but at least it is still supported.
Are you a tap and pay user that will be affected by this change – what will you do?