The saga of Google Wallet on Big Red’s airwaves has been an interesting one to follow. The mobile payments app was initially allowed on Verizon’s network, but was later blocked by the carrier through the Google Play Store and within the app itself. Well, an FCC complaint was filed and it caught Verizon’s eye, so much so that America’s largest carrier ended up responding to the complaint with haste.
In its response, Verizon reiterates that it would not be blocking Google Wallet on NFC devices if the app didn’t require access to the devices’ secure element. The company goes on to state that alternate payment apps — like Starbucks, Square and Paypal — aren’t being blocked because they don’t require access to the NFC chip’s secure element.
This is no doubt a move to dispel any anti-trust allegations that may arise thanks to Verizon’s conflict of interests with its mobile payments provider ISIS. ISIS is expected to make full use of the NFC chips inside Verizon’s phones whenever it launches, and it sure wouldn’t look pretty in the eyes of the FCC should the development take place without any explanation from Verizon.
Verizon states “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.” Verizon apparently won’t grant an application access to the secure element until it goes through a “special process,” one that we’re not surprised to see go unexplained in the text sent to the FCC.
Whether or not there actually is a special process that Google could go through to get Wallet approved for full NFC use is an entirely different beast of a story yet to be told. You can be sure we’re hunting down official word regarding that bit. Whatever the case may be, though, one thing is clear — Verizon thinks it’s in the right, and is not the least bit afraid to express that.