Google killing Wallet tap-and-pay for pre-KitKat devices starting April 14

by: Jonathan FeistMarch 15, 2014

Google Wallet card AA

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.

Google Wallet tap and pay Host-Based Card Emulation

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?

  • Kevin

    This really doesn’t seem like the brightest of ideas when KitKat has less than 5% of the android market.

    • What does it matter? Most carriers block the old method anyways in favor of their own proprietary payment systems (ie. AT&T). So most people couldn’t use the tap-and-pay feature of Google Wallet until Android 4.4 became available anyways.

      • Johnny English

        Even with most devices, once they are on Kit-Kat the carriers have removed the ability to use Google Wallet for Tap & Pay and replaced it with ISIS and the clumsy slow app that manages tap and pay that all the U.S. carriers like to force on us.

  • HaloSsweb

    Google does that, and I will never again use Google Wallet! They can kiss my ass!:-) What about the people who earn a low income living or are below middle class status, who are poor plainly said, and can’t afford to keep upgrading to high tech devices every time a new 4.+ android version is marketed? I guess corporate America will always be about nothing, in the next life! Because its clear they are out and money hungry for your wallets! by cleverly trying to get people to upgrade to new devices, yet mines for example will be good to me and continue to work for the another year or so. THEY ARE MONEY VAMPIRES, AND NOT JUST THE fame!

    • bob

      try apple. they actually update their phones

    • Butt hurt much? Learn to root and rom your phone. Or switch to iPhone none of their phones do tap and pay.

    • Anonymous Guy

      Dude. A if you have a smartphone at all you’re either not poor or have your priorities f***ed up.

  • missashi

    Why would they do this?

  • Bill Bizby

    I am a current tap & pay user.

    My phone works just fine.

    My phone does not have an android 4.4 upgrade.

    Google is breaking my phone for no reason whatsoever.

    Why would I give them more money when it’s going to cost me money to do so? If they want my money, they have to earn it and make it EASY for me to do a payment. If I have to jump through bullshit hoops (and breaking a currently functioning phone, requiring you to root it, and then upgrade the rom to something else qualifies as SUPREME BULLSHIT) then here’s what I’m going to do:

    I’m going to pull out one of the six other cards that do contactless payments in my wallet, and use one of them instead. I’m going to have my wallet with me anyway, so what reason would I EVER have to do anything with google wallet ever again? (Besides app purchases… meh.)

    Stupid, stupid, STUPID move.