Verizon says ‘no!’ to Google Wallet?
It must be said – a truly successful m-commerce solution will be agnostic to all banks and companies. Another potential conflict of interest has seen Verizon’s version of smart phone Galaxy Nexus not supporting Google Wallet. Both parties have released statements in the last few days around this matter in what is turning into a ‘he says, she says’ of why the phone does not support Google’s mobile payment system. This comes as a shock, as Verizon is one of the USA’s largest wireless service providers, and the Galaxy Nexus is being touted by many as an ultimate smart phone. Like clockwork, rumours have began circulating that the major reason for skipping the Google Wallet is because Verizon has teamed up with AT&T and T-Mobile and have reportedly invested upwards of $100 million in their joint-venture mobile payments network Isis. Depending on how the traction goes with this, there will be a great deal more pumped into Isis.
In reality, this almost-confirmed-rumour makes complete sense – why support Google Wallet when a ‘Verizon wallet’ is on the horizon? By not letting users access technology allowing them to utilise Google Wallet, Verizon is putting itself in a position to bust out their own bigger and (hopefully) better product. But when all is said and done, it is just a rumour and both parties have been quick to mildly rebuff any suggestions there is tension between the companies and their objectives.
Verizon said it was not blocking Google Wallet on the Galaxy Nexus, but rather is still in discussions with Google about the service. In a statement released a few days ago, Verizon spokesman Jeffrey Nelson made it clear any reports of the blocking of Google Wallet on any of their devises are completely false. "Google Wallet is different from other widely-available m-commerce services. Google Wallet does not simply access the operating system and basic hardware of our phones like thousands of other applications. Instead, in order to work as architected by Google, Google Wallet needs to be integrated into a new, secure and proprietary hardware element in our phones."
Despite this perfectly constructed PR spin on ‘working together’, Reuteurs has reported an unnamed Google spokesman saying Verizon asked it not to include the function in the Galaxy Nexus just days prior to Nelson’s statement. Google had declined to give further details. This questionable situation is made even more so by the end of Nelson’s media statement, which finishes with ‘we are continuing our commercial discussions with Google on this issue.’ Wouldn’t it be a technical issue, if it is to do with hardware as suggested? Doesn’t ‘commercial’ discussions allude to not technical issues, but rather issues that relate to commercial viability? At the end of the day, if Verizon really does plan on creating their own mobile wallet as rumoured, they would not give their customer database access to a similar product.
It may be all rumours and alleged goings-on, but this latest news revolving around mobile payments proves a point made regularly: the answer to a good mobile wallet is allowing users freedom. A good solution will never include restrictions due to vested business interests and competition. The best solution will be agnostic to specific technologies, banks and wireless providers.