Google may be boasting about the hardware specifications it embeds into its flagship devices, but the bitter truth however is that people do not interact with hardware, but with software.
The limitation of Android phones was exposed when Commonwealth Bank declared that Near Field Communication capacity found in the latest Android smartphones like Samsung’s Galaxy Nexus, the HTC One, Sony Xperia S, and the new Samsung Galaxy S3 was not enough to instate contactless banking transactions.
Though these handsets come embedded with specialized NFC chips which are capable of extracting information by NFC tags and stickers, there is no secure platform for incurring the transactions.
NFC as we know was used in the revolutionary app Bump, which allows users to share photos or exchange files just by bumping the two devices together.
The problem however as identified by the bank is that the chip does not have any secure element activated. According to the marketing and online officer, the manufacturer or Google itself needed to provide an element which initiates and closes NFC connections securely. He also denied having received any affirmation from Google/ manufacturers on building such a software layer.
On other hand, although Apple’s iPhone doesn’t have anything called a NFC chip embedded under its hood, the bank provides them with NFC enabled iPhone case which allows them for contactless payment on leading retail outlets. That perhaps is the concept which the bank wants to implement pervasively and as we very well know, Android occupies almost more than 50% market-share in smartphones.
Blackberry also isn’t a perfect choice as it has slipped in rankings in recent time and as there is no customer-demand to bring NFC to RIM based devices, leaving bank hands-tied on how to proceed.
The bank on the other hand is keen to integrate NFC if Google permits. The issue as mentioned can be fixed by a software update and we hope to see this resolved by the next OS release. We hope the Google guys are listening.