Google unveiled a mobile payments service to the world called Google Wallet back in May 2011. It’s been over a year and a half since that press conference and it’s pretty obvious that Google Wallet has failed to take off. Why? It’s not a technological issue, it’s pure politics. Whenever you pay for something using your credit card or debit card, the company that’s handling the transaction takes a slice. If companies start letting people pay for things using a mobile phone, then who is going to take a cut of the transaction? Is it the company that made the phone? The company that made the OS powering the phone? The operator that subsidized the phone? You can quickly see how complicated this gets.
An XDA forum member by the name of “Joshua” complained to Verizon about the inability to use Google Wallet on his Android powered smartphone. Verizon sent him a letter saying they’re not “blocking” Google Wallet, and that many other applications such as Square, PayPal, and the Starbucks card work just fine. Google Wallet is special because it wants access to the secure element inside the phone in order to authenticate users. The “secure element” Verizon references is more often than not the SIM card.
Can Google do anything to get operators and handset makers to get onboard the Google Wallet train? We hate to say it, but the answer is no. Visa, the largest payment processor in the world, has already created their Google Wallet competitor. It’s called V.me. Banks have to sign up for it so that they in turn can offer it to their customers. One of America’s largest banks, Bank of America, has already said they’re going to offer their members V.me.
You didn’t honestly think that your bank would just sit on the sidelines and watch the mobile industry fight over mobile payments, did you?
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Wait… Let me get this straight: Verizon is saying, “we aren’t blocking Google Wallet. Except we are. Sorry, go cry to the internet about it.” in response?
That doesn’t seem like a very good strategy. It would have been better to have made something up or to not respond at all from a PR standpoint.
They’re basically saying any app that wants to access the secure element can’t be installed. That actually makes a lot of sense, from a security perspective. Verizon didn’t want to do a deal with Google, simple as that.