Apple entered the mobile payments market and took it by storm. They now rule contactless payments, with 2 out of every 3 dollars spent being accredited to Apple Pay. This is only some months after Apple Pay’s launch, while competitors like Google Wallet and Softcard (previously known as ISIS) have been going at it for years.
I like to call this the Apple effect, in which Apple leads the road that other manufacturers build. We won’t get into too much detail about that right now, but you can read my opinion piece on the matter. Today we are focusing on what Google is doing to take back its rightful place as the true King of NFC payments.
Rumors of a revived Google Wallet application and a Softcard acquisition have been circulating. Today we can confirm that the latter is real. It doesn’t seem like a complete acquisition, but Google and Softcard are mentioning the Search Giant acquired “technologies and capabilities to power the next generation of mobile payments”.
How will the Softcard acquisition affect users?
We don’t know what will happen with the Softcard services, but Softcard states current users can continue to use the app, at least until they share more information “in the coming weeks”. It’s all up in the air for now, but we do know some major changes are coming.
For those of you who don’t know, Softcard was created by Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile in 2010. It was meant to be the biggest mobile payments project in existence, as it was backed by 3 out of 4 of the most influential carriers in the USA. Softcard didn’t become as huge as we had expected, though, and Apple easily surpassed them, along with everyone else.
With this acquisition, Google proves that it is willing to do what it takes to go up against Cupertino. This is a significant deal, and we are not only talking about the magnitude of the acquisition, but what it will bring. Google Wallet will soon be pre-installed in all Android devices sold by Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile. Of course, given that they come with Android 4.4 or higher.
Can this move really help Google Wallet beat Apple Pay?
It’s a common technique, right? “The enemy of my enemy is my friend”. Both Google Wallet and ISIS are losing ground to the giant that Apple represents, and I can see how uniting could make them both much more capable of becoming a significant adversary to Apple.
Having the Google Wallet app pre-installed in all these Android devices will surely help the case, but that is no different than having the Softcard app pre-installed in all devices (it already is). What Google needs is more than simple “bloatware”, they need more advertising, better adoption, more support and an improved product.
This is why I am hoping Google Wallet will receive that “revived” launch, which seems to be the case. Google and Softcard hint at welcoming the acquired technologies to further improve Google Wallet. How? We have yet to see. For starters, I am personally hoping more support for Android Wear comes, just as Apple Pay will be supported by the Apple Watch.
I suppose what I am trying to say is that Google definitely has the capabilities to take on Apple Pay. After all, Android dominated the market, and the involved carriers control the USA. Even with these advantages, it won’t be a smooth ride.
What Google is proving with this deal, though, is that they are now taking matters seriously and are going full steam ahead with Google Wallet. This is no longer just a side project that Google pushed to the side, so Apple better stay sharp. Why couldn’t you do this years ago, Google?!