The introduction of Tap & Pay in Android 4.4 has sparked the hopes of many Android users in Australia of an phone based NFC payment system such as that used in the US since the launch of Google Wallet back in September 2011, but as a traditionally US based service, will this work in Australia?

The ability to use your phone to tap and pay at any one of the hundreds of thousands of NFC enabled Visa Paywave or Mastercard PayPass terminals that are present in retailers across Australia has been a dream since Google Wallet was first introduced. What most discovered after the introduction though, was that Google kept Wallet closed to everyone outside the US, unless you went to lengths to enable it on your device.

Limitations on the way NFC works in its current form, where the NFC Controller contacts a Secure Element embedded in the phone to authorise payments based on information stored within, have restricted the rollout of NFC payments globally, as carriers have been in control of the information contained within and they have preferred – in the US at least – to back consortiums like ISIS, but with those consortiums seemingly halting NFC payments overall, Google has looked for another way to move forward and that’s where Tap & Pay comes in.

The Tap and Pay function in Android 4.4, is specifically centred around the NFC chip in the Nexus 5 being able to use Host Card Emulation(HCE) which allows the device to emulate an NFC smart card like that found in a Visa or Mastercard Credit Card – or many other NFC based cards – which according to Google will allow for NFC payments without the need for a Secure Element :

With HCE, any app on an Android device can emulate an NFC smart card, letting users tap to initiate transactions with an app of their choice — no provisioned secure element (SE) in the device is needed.

All this is well and good, but it seems that this may still be restricted to the US. A look at the Google Wallet Support page advises that ‘Tap and pay functionality is available in the US‘ but also requires specific hardware, in particular an NFC-enabled Android device with a Secure Element, running 2.3 (Gingerbread) or higher ‘on select carrier networks‘ which rules anywhere outside the US. Now, with Android 4.4 the page continues that you can also use Tap & Pay if you have ‘an NFC-enabled Android device running 4.4 (KitKat) or higher‘, but that still doesn’t mean that the Nexus 5 or even the Nexus 4 will allow you to use it, the page advises that both the Nexus 4 and Nexus 5 :Must be used with a US-based SIM card to work.

So, the question is, will we be able to use it in Australia? Well, you still can’t install Google Wallet from Google Play, but you can get a region free modified version from MoDaCo so, at this stage there is STILL no official support for Google Wallet or Tap & Pay outside the US.

The real answer is that we’ll have to wait, once the Nexus 5 arrives in Australia and the rest of the world, we’ll begin seeing movement on this. But rest assured, we’re interested in everything about this new HEC NFC emulation and we’ll be trying out any and all functions of it, including any attempts to get Tap & Pay working in Australia.

Would you use a Tap & Pay solution like Google Wallet?

Source(s): Android Developers, and Google Wallet Support
  • Ausbloke

    I’ve got the Nexus 5 and there is NO support for Google Wallet here…. which sucks, they are seriously losing money as there is NO choice to pay anyone but either via bank or PayPal, both which has higher fees than Google checkout used to have…. so they are just biting themselves in the foot.

  • Dan Rayner

    Commbank announce mid way through October that they were releasing a new app that support this Tap & Pay feature. No idea on when, but it’s coming.

    • Jason Murray

      They actually weren’t specifically referring to Google’s Tap & Pay feature, but their own branded Tap & Pay feature.

      As we reported at the time, the CommBank system continues to rely on access to the NFC secure element and thus will only use built-in NFC on certain supported devices. Fair enough, too — Android 4.4 wasn’t around at the time.

      The new features in Android 4.4 might allow CommBank to use the built-in NFC on any device running 4.4, rather than a whitelist of specific devices from specific manufacturers.

      • Dan Rayner

        It looks like they have changed the website recently. When the page originally came up it referred to a “new Android feature”. I wouldn’t be surprised if Google was in talks with major banks to help get this feature off the ground. without their help it will go no where and this would be a selling point for Android.

  • mrjayviper

    Google only loves it’s home country :/

  • Jezz_X

    Because a ” modified version from MoDaCo” sounds like a great idea for a app that has access to my money : Sometimes I wonder why the ausdroid team don’t put extra warnings on these sort of links / suggestions

    • Jason Murray

      If it were available to download from Mega, it would warrant a warning. MoDaCo is a widely trusted source of Android APKs.

  • Alexei Watson

    Got my nexus 5, tap and pay is there, but wallet won’t enable, but it does say that ‘other apps’ can use tap & pay, so maybe we have to wait for say, mastercard, visa & amex to make apps available, or you issuing banks.

    Or google could just , ya know, flip a switch.

    • Kin Choi

      thats because it only works in the US, its a control issue between all parties

  • glennv17

    Just a heads up, Wallet was actually preinstalled on my Nexus 5. It’s not listed on the device in Apps, but if you go to the Wallet listing in the Play Store you’ll see that it only has an option for Enable. Click that and it’s available straight away, it of course then says it’s not available in Australia.

    The fact that they disabled Wallet but kept the Tap & Pay feature open clearly means we could get banking apps to work, if they go down that path. I’m betting CBA will be first, we just won’t need those sticky tags now.

    • http://beaugil.es BeauGiles

      Wallet is included on the majority of Nexus firmwares; it just happens to be ‘frozen’ – it was included on my Galaxy Nexus many many firmwares ago too. :-)

  • Kin Choi

    it only works in the US only since Google is a US centric company

  • BD

    Hurry up already …!! I’m hoping if the Commbank app works well the others (big 4) will follow suit

    • Rajvir Singh

      Forget about Commbank! They are freaking lazy or they just don’t care about Android users.. Their NetBank app is still just a port of iOS, I absolutely hate it cause every freaking time I hit the back button and it used to log me outstraight away instead of going one step back.. I just use the mobile site now which is way better than their “App” Kaching app is supposed to bring these kinds of payments but I don’t think they will do anything about this for a long time, they always seem to favour iOS though..

      • Harpersneil

        Of course, everyone’s opinion is valid, but I’ve got to disagree with you; I think the Commbank App is great. I also don’t think it’s a port of the iOS app as that has Bump integration in it. I used to be with ANZ and it took them well over a year after releasing the iOS app to do the same with Android. By comparison, I think Commbank isn’t too bad (but they’re all evil b*stards!)

      • dzeikei

        I think what he means by “port” is that the Android app is a “UX/UI port” of the iOS app and doesn’t feel like an Android app.

      • Rajvir Singh

        Exactly!! It has an on screen “back” button on top of the screen like in iOS cause iOS only has one button.. Whereas on Android we have 3 dedicated physical/Navigation buttons (depending on the device you have) but they haven’t made use of those system buttons but instead just copy paste code from iOS to android and hence the android back button is broken/useless..

      • revolute

        The Kaching app has been using a Holo-based UI for quite a while now.. It bears little resemblance to the iOS app.

      • Rajvir Singh

        I didn’t say it’s as good as iOS version. But clearly It is still a port of iOS (may be an older version) cause it has iOS style navigation.. I has a back button on top left just like most apps in iOS have.. Clicking the System back button should take you one step back if it was implemented properly in the app but it simply logs you out, making you do the several steps again to get to where you were.. Just try it..

      • Jason

        Get the Kaching app, it’s nothing like NetBank. You are missing out!

        I suspect they will be releasing a Tap & Pay enabled version of Kaching early next year.

  • Craig

    Keen to see if you guys manage to get Tap & Pay working… Expecting my Nexus 5 on Friday and this would be a great thing to be able to use.

  • Damon Lewis

    Hopefully Commonwealth Bank come to the party with their new app

    • Ray

      If humour is true, they will. Time will tell.

      • JeniSkunk

        Ray did you mean humour, or rumour?

      • Ray

        Oops! Good ol’ SwiftKey strikes again. ;)

        Was meant to say rumour.

    • Alexei Watson

      it’d be enough for me to switch banks