Google may have been one of the first to bring a wireless, mobile payment system to modern smartphones using NFC technology, but it was Apple that made the technology surprisingly easy-to-use and widespread courtesy of Apple Pay and Touch ID. When it comes to contactless payment made using American Express, MasterCard, and Visa accounts, Apple Pay currently captures two out of every three dollars spent.
“Apple Pay is off to a very strong start, and the feedback that we're getting from both individuals and institutions is extremely positive,” bragged Apple CEO Tim Cook during his company’s most recent earnings call. “With all of this momentum in the early days, we are more convinced than ever that 2015 will be the year of Apple Pay.”
Google has no doubt seen the success of Apple Pay and would love to mirror that success with Google Wallet. As a result, the long-rumored tie-up with Softcard has finally come to fruition, with Google acquiring “exciting technology and intellectual property” from Softcard to bolster Google Wallet.
“We've received great feedback from people who use this feature and we’ve continued investing to make it easy and secure for more people to pay with their phones,” said Ariel Bardin, Google’s Vice President of Payments on the Google Commerce Blog. “A big part of this is working with other innovators in the industry to help provide a seamless experience across a wide range of phones and stores.
“From tap and pay to storing loyalty and gift cards to sending money to friends, we've been working hard to make the Google Wallet app even more useful to you -- and there's lots more to come.”
The search giant is doing its best to make sure that Google Wallet takes off in the U.S. and is partnering with three of America’s four largest wireless carriers: AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless. As a result, all smartphones running Android 4.4 KitKat or higher from these carriers will come preinstalled with Google Wallet later this year.
Since Google will be integrating Softcard’s technology into Google Wallet from this point forward, the standalone Softcard app will likely be abandoned. Softcard writes, “For now, Softcard customers can continue to tap and pay with the app. We will share more information with customers and partners in the coming weeks.”
This latest acquisition will give Google a big boost in the mobile payments arena, but it won’t just have Apple to compete with: Samsung has also stepped into the fray with the acquisition of LoopPay. It’s expected that the first product to showcase the combined talents of Samsung and LoopPay will be the upcoming Galaxy S6 smartphone, which will be unveiled next month at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain.