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Verizon's Isis Mobile Wallet app can use a phone's secure element, but Google Wallet can't

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Verizon Wireless store (STOCK)
Verizon Wireless store (STOCK)

Earlier this month it came to light that the reason Verizon was not offering the Google Wallet app on its smartphones was because it requires access to a phone's secure element, something that Verizon claimed was an unnecessary requirement. Verizon even went as far as saying that if Google removed this requirement, it would have no problem approving the app for use on its network and devices. However, as noted by Droid-Life, it seems that Verizon doesn't apply the same level of scrutiny to its own Isis Mobile Wallet app. When the app is installed on a Verizon phone, it informs the user that it is only compatible with phones that have both an NFC chip and a Secure Element, and that the Secure Element is necessary to properly validate transactions and cannot be accessed by other apps.

Currently, the only phones from Verizon that support the Isis Mobile Wallet app are the HTC Droid Incredible 4G, Motorola Droid RAZR HD and RAZR Maxx HD, and the Samsung Galaxy S III, which means that all of the devices have the necessary NFC and secure element hardware to work with Isis. Verizon hasn't approved Google Wallet for any of the phones, which means that you can't download it from the Play Store and use it as you would on a supported device. The limitation doesn't seem to be a hardware issue — the Galaxy S III on Sprint, MetroPCS, and US Cellular has support for and access to Google Wallet. As it stands now, though, it doesn't look like Verizon will ever officially support the Google Wallet app on its phones, since it is fully invested in the Isis program and has chosen that as its mobile payments solution going forward.

We have reached out to Verizon for comment on the matter and will update this story if we receive a response.