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Verizon won't offer Google Wallet for the Galaxy Nexus because it uses a 'secure element'

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Verizon Wireless has yet to make the Google Wallet app available for the Galaxy Nexus and other devices on its network, despite the fact that it claims to not be blocking downloads or use of the app. According to a post on the XDA-Developers forums, the carrier recently responded to a complaint forwarded to the FCC that says that Verizon is not approving the app for use with phones that it sells because unlike other payment apps, Google Wallet requires access to a phone's "secure element" to function.

Put simply, unlike the Sprint version or the unlocked Galaxy Nexus, the Verizon version doesn't come with the Wallet app preinstalled and it's not available in the Play Store on the device. Verizon alleges that if the Wallet app didn't require special hardware and merely relied on a phone's basic hardware and operating system, it would have no trouble making the app available for download.

"Google is free to offer its Google Wallet application in a manner that doesn't require integration with the secure element."

The carrier even goes as far as saying that if Google changed the app according to Verizon's guidelines and perhaps made it work like other mobile payment apps from Starbucks or Square, there would no issue. "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" said the carrier in its response letter to the complaint.

But the fundamental purpose of Google Wallet is that it utilizes a phone's NFC element to enable tap-to-pay services, something that apps like Starbucks and Square can't do with their simple QR-code based systems. Removing that functionality to comply with Verizon's rather specific requests would mean that Google Wallet would be no different than other payment apps already available.

Verizon does have its own NFC-based mobile payments service with ISIS, which is currently available on a handful of recent Android smartphones offered by the carrier. ISIS, a joint partnership with AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon, can be considered a direct competitor to Google Wallet. AT&T has yet to release any devices that work with Wallet, while T-Mobile has been less strict at keeping Wallet off of its network. Whether or not Verizon will ever get around to approving the Google Wallet app for the Galaxy Nexus and others remains to be seen, but given that the Galaxy Nexus is now just about a year old, we wouldn't get our hopes up in anticipation for it.

The Verge
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