Google is altering the minimal requirements for Google Wallet and will soon allow contactless transaction to be placed only on devices running Android 4.4 KitKat.
Android 4.4 boasts Host Card Emulation (HCE), meaning there is no need for a secure element to store cardholder data. Prior to the HCE feature, Android phones equipped with NFC would mostly be limited by manufacturers and carriers, resulting in payment features that could not be used by the device owner.
HCE mimics the secure element, and in turn is OS based, meaning it cannot be limited by carriers and manufacturers. Currently only 2.5% of Android device are running KitKat, but Google has set a deadline of around May to All licensed manufacturers to update current devices to Android 4.4. Manufacturers that will not comply risk losing Google Play service support, resulting in Google features such as the Play-Store, location, Gmail and a wide array of other stock services no longer working.
Fragmentation among devices has been one of Googles weak points. Android 4.4 was introduced to help fix the issue with lower system requirements, and HCE to fully utilize Google’s Ecommerce intentions.
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Other payment firms have jumped on the HCE bandwagon such as Isis, MasterCard, and Visa.
Google has set a date of April 14 2014, after which devices not running KitKat will no longer be able to use the mobile payment feature.
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