Ever since Google Wallet debuted, we’ve had the ability to pay with our smartphones (well, a small fraction of us have, anyway). It was as easy as tapping your phone on the sensor and entering your PIN. What could be so bad about that? We don’t know, but apparently the carriers do. Most of them blocked Google Wallet entirely. Nexus users and Sprint customers could continue with the mobile payments, but most of us were out of luck.
The other carriers released Isis, which is usable but not better than Google Wallet in the least. Google got sick of everyone blocking Wallet, so the company integrated Tap and Pay into Android 4.4, so everyone can use Google Wallet. I have an AT&T Moto X, and I’m happily paying for things using Google Wallet! But it looks like we’re finally getting more options to pay with our smartphones.
Both Visa and MasterCard have announced that they will support Tap and Pay, providing the tools necessary to get cards working with Google’s Host Card Emulation. With these tools, banks will be able to support Tap and Pay whenever they are ready. Unfortunately, this does mean that it’s up to the bank to support it. Just because you have a Visa or MasterCard doesn’t mean you’ll be able to add your card to Tap and Pay.
Once the banks add support for Tap and Pay to their apps, these apps will show up in the settings and allow you to select them as the default payment method over NFC. Visa has already released the tools to add support, while MasterCard will be releasing the tools in the first half of this year.
You may be asking, “What’s the purpose of adding your card when you could have added it to Google Wallet all this time?” Using Google Wallet has its downsides–all payments show up as from Google on your card statement, making them harder to identify. Using your bank card directly is a more simple process that also lets you take advantage of all the safety features your bank offers.
We’re happy to finally be seeing progress in the NFC payment market. It’s been stagnated for so long, despite support for the service growing. Hopefully more stores will start installing the payment sensors now that all major Android manufacturers are updating their devices to KitKat. A huge amount of people will soon have the ability to pay with their smartphones, so we hope the service will finally grow. Do you use mobile payments? Leave a comment!