First, we ask a question: How many of you have NFC enabled phones? Not many, but there are quite a few.
Now we ask THE question: How many of you are able to use your phones as a digital wallet? That’s right, not many.
There are 6 phones that are able to officially use Google Wallet, and they are all (but one) on one carrier, Sprint. There is the Virgin Mobile Optimus Elite, but that’s for a small prepaid carrier. Granted, Sprint is not a very big carrier either, so that hurts availability even more. None of the other 3 big carriers have any Wallet-enabled phones, and none of them plan to. So, who ruined NFC payments?
Google is the main culprit, and all of us are the witnesses. Look at all the promises they made. And look what Google Wallet is capable of: not much. It supports only one bank card, most stores don’t support NFC payment, and Google has done nothing about it. Sure, some could say Wallet just never caught on, but Google has just shown that they don’t care. They didn’t fulfill any of their promises. They did not make Wallet a usable product for most people. Out of the small amount of people who had one of the small selection of phones that can use Wallet, they had to have a MasterCard. Ridiculous, Google. You let Wallet die.
AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile
We all knew deep down this would happen, but it shocked many of us anyway. The greed of US carriers has struck again. Instead of using Google’s method (which could have been so great had Google tried harder), these three carriers decide to create their own system called ISIS. And in many ways, it is a whole lot better than Wallet. When it comes out (and no one knows when that is), it’ll have support for many bank cards, they have struck deals with many major retail shops, and it will (hopefully) be widespread because it will be on many phones across 3 major carriers. But being better isn’t enough for me to like it more. It’s under the control of the carriers, and we all know how much they hate modders. Google allowed Wallet to run on rooted devices with nothing more than a warning of the security issues. Don’t think the carriers will do the same. Rooted devices will be blocked, possibly even beyond developer control. Point is: it’s taking forever to be released and rooted users may be completely left out.
Now this is more a joke than anything, but it’s too bad Apple hadn’t integrated NFC into the iPhone 4S. If they did that, it’d become more popular and Android users could join the party (if Apple’s system wasn’t too proprietary). Can’t blame them, but they of all people could have done it.
Did Sprint claim exclusivity on Wallet? I really don’t know, but if they did, that just contributed to the problem. I hope this isn’t the case, but it very well might be. Also, there have been rumors of them wanting to create their own payment system to replace Google Wallet. Sprint doesn’t stand a chance alone, and again, this just makes everything worse.
Is NFC payment dead? Not at all! It just needs time. It may have a lot of problems in the future under carrier control, but it’ll bloom eventually. It just could have bloomed so much earlier and been so much better. It’s sad to see Google just let this project go. It had so much potential. Now we just wait patiently for ISIS and hope it’ll work on my rooted Galaxy SII and on imported phones.