Google wants to compete in the payments business, but for over three years Verizon Wireless, AT&T and T-Mobile USA have blocked Wallet – the mobile wallet and payment service – from working on U.S. smartphones.
This has severely limited Wallet’s adoption rate, while the three main carriers offer the alternative SoftCard (previously ISIS) as a way for customers to pay for things through mobile.
In 2015, Google wants to give the mobile payments world another shot by relaunching Wallet, and this time it will deal with the U.S. carriers. Firstly, it has worked on a distribution deal with the three carriers allowing Wallet to be pre-installed on Android devices.
Google has also acquired SoftCard – the backed mobile service that failed to deliver – for an undisclosed amount. SoftCard claims users will still be able to pay for things through the service, but we expect Google to shut the service down in the next few months.
Taking SoftCard out of the picture and working with the U.S. carriers might be the smartest thing Google has done, although it does make them look rather corporate compared to Apple Pay, which managed to gain retail support and user popularity through being a good service.
Google is not only competing with Apple Pay, Samsung is also working on its own payments service with the acquisition of LoopPay for $200 million (£129 million), a big move to potentially integrate with 90 percent of the current card readers in the U.S.
Having the U.S. carriers pre-install Wallet instead of Samsung’s LoopPay might limited the South Korean-based company from finding headway in the U.S., the most important market for mobile payments.
It is still up to the users to decide whether Wallet lives or dies however, and the potential for PayPal to break the market still exists, if it manages to create a competing mobile payments service when it finally splits from eBay.