The short answer is: Yes.
Here’s why: a Smartphone can be secured on the network of your bank, or the network of your credit card company, or any other network using the exact same technology that secures your smart phone on the network of your mobile phone company.
Do you remember decades ago when fraudulent phone calls appearing on your mobile phone bill was a relatively common problem? Did you use a mobile or cellular phone back in the late 1980s or early 1990s? If so, you used a system where the mobile phone would TRANSMIT an electronic serial number to a cellular phone tower to identify itself. The cellular phone tower would use the serial number to make sure your account was active, complete your phone call, and add the charge to your bill.
Unfortunately, transmitting the secure number was a really bad idea. Crooks figured out a way to capture your serial number, and then program your serial number into somebody else’s mobile phone. Then, that other mobile phone could make all phone calls to anywhere, but you got the bill.
The way they fixed that was to simply stop transmitting the serial number. Today, when you buy any mobile phone, a “secret code” or a “kernel” is installed on a chip in your mobile phone. The same kernel is stored securely back in the computer systems of your phone company. The important part is, this code is never transmitted in any way either from your mobile phone or from the network.
So, when you turn your mobile phone on today, your phone receives a complicated formula, for example: 225.73*K – 17.2752*K + 111.1705*K = ?. your phone needs the value of “K” or secret code, to respond back with the correct answer. (The formula is actually a lot more complicated than this example, and is intentionally written so that more than one number would solve the equation, so even if you intercepted both the formula and the answer, you could not establish the value of “K” .
Most Smart phone wallet services available in North America will use this process to secure your mobile phone when you use it to buy something at a retail store. in addition to the mobile phone carrier installing the “’secret” on your smart phone, your credit card company will need to install another “secret” on your smart phone through a service called Trusted Service Management, or TSM. Then, whenever you want to use your phone as a payment device, the network will send a complicated formula to your phone, and if your phone does not answer correctly then the bank will reject the transaction.
for the Google wallet, First Data provides the TSM function. Although the role of a TSM is new to First Data (actually, it is new to everybody), First Data is by far the largest processor of secure payment transactions in the world. in other words, they are not new to the topic of security, and they should be able to be trusted to handle this function.
In addition to the Google Wallet, Isis will also use TSM as part of its security.
And, as if that’s not enough security, that TSM process will simply allow the transaction to begin. Once the transaction begins, Google Wallet will likely use an additional security layer such as the system used to secure credit/debit card uses today in Europe and Canada, which is called “EMV”. For those of us in the United States, who have neither EMV nor TSM in any large scale at present, smart phones will represent a remarkably more secure payment device then our current cards.
Note: There are many books written on the subjects of TSM, EMV, and mobile wallets (including mine).