Verizon to FCC: We're not blocking Google Wallet
Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) has denied it is blocking consumer access to Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) Wallet, telling the FCC that the contactless payment application is not supported on Verizon devices because of integration obstacles.
In a letter from Verizon to the FCC's Consumer Inquiries and Complaints Division uncovered by Droid Life, the operator states "Verizon does not block the Google Wallet from being downloaded over Verizon's network, nor does it block consumers from downloading any other applications that are compatible with the devices and the basic operating systems approved for our network. In fact, customers can download and use most m-commerce applications, like Square or PayPal or the Starbucks card. These apps access and use the basic hardware and operating system on mobile phones."
Verizon contends that Google Wallet is not compatible with devices it distributes, markets and subsidizes because the service requires integration with a phone's secure element. "This is a secure and proprietary piece of hardware built into some devices, but fundamentally separate from the device's basic communications function or its operating system," Verizon explains. "Google Wallet is different from other widely-available m-commerce services in that it requires integration with this 'secure element.'"
Verizon adds that "Google is free to offer its Google Wallet application in a manner that doesn't require integration with the secure element, and many payment applications do just that."
The FCC letter essentially reiterates statements Verizon Wireless made a year ago after confirming it would ship the Android-powered Galaxy Nexus smartphone without preloading the Google Wallet app.
The Near Field Communications-based Google Wallet enables consumers to make purchases by tapping their device at more than 200,000 MasterCard PayPass-enabled merchant terminals across the U.S. While Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S), U.S. Cellular and MetroPCS (NASDAQ:PCS) sell Android smartphones supporting Google Wallet, Verizon Wireless, AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) and T-Mobile USA do not offer Wallet-capable devices. The three carriers instead support their own nationwide m-commerce network, Isis, which kicked off consumer trials in the Salt Lake City and Austin, Texas markets in October.
Reports indicate Google is poised to add a physical credit card connected to the Wallet platform, enabling consumers to make in-store purchases at retailers that do not support NFC-based contactless payment technologies. The rumors follow a recent Wallet website update promising "The next version of Google Wallet [is] coming soon," complete with a signup page asking "What kind of mobile device do you use?" and offering three options: Android, iOS or "other," the latter represented by an illustration of a smartphone with a physical keypad à la Research In Motion's (NASDAQ:RIMM) BlackBerry devices.
Google has not officially commented on the possibility of physical card, but reports indicate the approach would closely resemble the Starbucks Card Mobile App, which Verizon supports. The Starbucks app eschews NFC, instead allowing iPhone, Android and BlackBerry device owners to complete in-store transactions by generating scannable barcodes connected to the customer's prepaid Starbucks Card account. Starbucks customers use the app more than 2 million times each week.
- read this Droid Life article
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