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AT&T network opens Google Wallet for business

By , CardRatings contributor
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This month, AT&T became the third nationwide wireless carrier to permit Google Wallet functionality on Nexus-branded Android phones. Sprint openly authorizes eligible users to activate the near-field communication payment chip on their networks, while AT&T and Verizon customers must add the functionality by downloading the Google Wallet app from the Android Market.

Verizon Wireless spokespeople have denied that the carrier has blocked Google Wallet from its network, although neither the carrier nor the Internet giant offer official support for the payment system. Google has used the "Nexus" name to designate handsets that contain the most current Android operating system features, freed from restrictions by carriers. However, Google dropped the Verizon version of the Galaxy Nexus device from its official developer support list.

Though Google officials told industry trade publications that it pulled the device from support because Verizon's CDMA network doesn't support all Android functions, some industry watchers speculated that Google's move was in response to Verizon's lack of support for Google Wallet.

Google Wallet faces phone company competition: ISIS

Other technology pundits have speculated that lack of official support for Google Wallet stems from perceived competition with ISIS, a wireless industry-backed mobile payments standard. Like Google Wallet, ISIS transmits encrypted payment information to existing NFC-capable point of sale devices. Whereas Google Wallet has partnered with MasterCard and Citibank to offer payment accounts, many ISIS sponsors intend to allow cell phone users to charge transactions directly to their phone bills.

ISIS' backers have a tough road ahead of them, according to the results of a recent consumer study conducted by KPMG. When asked which companies they trusted most with their financial data, more than half of respondents expressed faith in their existing banks and credit card issuers. Only 6 percent of consumers in the study cited their wireless or broadband carriers as the most trustworthy.

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