Nothing reconciles two former enemies than the threat of competition. That's exactly what has happened with Google and Softcards' impending partnership. Later this year, there is no official date was announced as yet, all Android devices sold by the carriers AT & T, T-Mobile US and Verizon will come with Google wallet's NFC solution pre-installed. Vice president of Payments at Google, Ariel Bardin, said:
"Under this relationship, the Google Wallet app, including the tap and pay functionality, will come pre-installed on Android phones (running KitKat or higher) sold by these carriers in the US later this year. We’re also acquiring some exciting technology and intellectual property from Softcard to make Google Wallet better."
Clearly the threat of Apple Pay has driven the two former competitors together. Both Google Wallet and the carrier-backed offering, Softcard, have been floundering since their respective releases. Neither has managed to make huge waves in the market. Google Wallet has never received widespread adoption or broken into the mainstream consciousness significantly and much the same can be said for Softcard. The latter technology was also originally branded ISIS - so it's no surprise the company chose to re-brand and re-boot the product and its promotion. For the small number of Softcard users out there in America, a company statement said:
"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."
Google and Softcard have not entered into an official partnership together just yet then, but I would not be surprised to see them work together closer still in the coming months to counter the threat of Apple Pay.
The mobile payments battleground in America is shaping up nicely - and the competition can only be good for the prospects of mobile payments and the services consumers can expect. Apple Pay is leading the charge at the moment, but with it's limitation to iOS devices with Touch ID, there is plenty of ground for Google, Walmart's MXC and even the Samsung owned LoopPay to battle over. As the market heats up, the service that can overcome security concerns, and add more than just convenience, but identity and loyalty services too, will have the best chance of coming out on top.
By Matthew Taylor 25th February 2015
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