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Nexus 5: Debuting a Google Wallet that Could Work on Any Phone?

October 29, 2013 - Written By Cory McNutt

We all naturally assumed that Google’s new flagship phone, the Nexus 5, would come with a secure NFC chip in it that would allow the use of the Google Wallet application.  However, our friends at, discovered through a leaked copy of the Nexus 5 manual, the NFC chip used is the same one used in the Nexus 7 (2013).  That chip is not secure, and therefore would not be compatible with the existing Google Wallet platform.  Is Google finally giving up on its much maligned Wallet application or is Google changing the way it conducts “Wallet” transactions?

secure nfc chip

Google Wallet, in its present configuration, requires the use of a secure element in its NFC chip in order to authorize payments – it is a physical smart card element embedded in the NFC area that stores the Google Wallet information associated with your account.  When Google designed their Wallet, that secure element chip was an integral part of the design.  Not all NFC chips have that secure element, so there was a limited number of smartphones that could download and use the application.

Featured: New Google Wallet Coming Soon

Google has been trying to make their Wallet work for the past few years and seem to run into roadblocks; either because of the lack of the secure NFC chip in the phones or even carrier resistance, especially Verizon.  They do not want transactions on their network using the secure element approach…though no real reason why was given, other than security.  The more plausible reason is that Verizon wants it chosen NFC payment plan, ISIS, to have exclusive access to that secure chip, and even suggested that Google revamp their Wallet app so it no longer needed to use that secure chip. Well, Verizon may get their wish, because Google just recently filed a patent to make NFC payments without going through a secured element.  Android 4.4 KitKat show a “Tap & Pay” entry in the settings, possibly indicating it will integrate with Google Wallet.

Until we learn more about this matter we can only assume one of two things – either the Nexus 5 will not support Google Wallet or that Google has found a way around using the secure chip on the NFC.  Hopefully, the latter is the case, because this could open up Google Wallet to the masses and possibly give it a good chance to succeed.  I know with my Galaxy Note 2 on Verizon, that the Google Wallet app was not compatible with my device, however, my Galaxy Note 3, still on Verizon, allowed me to download Google Wallet…maybe the Nexus 5 will not need that pesky secure chip after all.