Google Wallet: A brewing battle between Verizon and Google

Turf war looms over a smartphone's secure element

By , Computerworld |  Security, Google Wallet, mobile payments

Google Wallet

Attendees watch a demonstration of the Google wallet application screen during a news conference unveiling the mobile payment system in New York May 26, 2011.

REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

Verizon Wireless is thwarting the use of the Google Wallet mobile payment app, at least for now, on the coming Galaxy Nexus smartphone running on Verizon's 4G LTE network.

The carrier denied it is "blocking," the app in a technical sense, but Google's simple statement made late Monday on the matter speaks volumes: "Verizon asked us not to include [Google Wallet] functionality in the [Galaxy Nexus] product."

These statements signal that a bigger battle is brewing between the Android OS maker and the nation's biggest wireless carrier. The dispute has shades of the carrier-manufacturer disagreements over which apps would be allowed on certain smartphones when mobile apps first emerged in 2008.

But mobile payments are different from other apps because of their need for security, analysts have said.

Given the potential for a huge, protracted battle between these two companies, it's a good thing that Verizon said it is "continuing our commercial discussions with Google on this issue."

What seems to be at issue is whether Verizon's security team can integrate Google Wallet into a "secure hardware element," or the system for storing private data, in phones with near field communications (NFC) technology. Google Wallet would need to work with whatever secure element Verizon and its partners in the Isis mobile payment venture are using. Isis is a consortium of wireless carriers made up of T-Mobile, AT&T and Verizon that would be compete with Google Wallet.

A smartphone 's secure element is usually a chip or a group of chips that bolsters security by recognizing a person's credit credentials apart from the phone's operating system, thus attaching an additional layer of proof for a transaction to go through. The secure element contains a user's personal information that allows a payment to be made, and that information is usually obtained with a cryptographic key.


Originally published on Computerworld |  Click here to read the original story.
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