Today Google has acquired the technology and IP behind Softcard. Softcard is a joint venture between AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile to support NFC based mobile payments in the United States. While Google's original post on the Google Commerce blog described it as something closer to a partnership, the statement released by Softcard confirms that Google has purchased Softcard's technology. 

According to the statement released by Google, they have partnered with the three major US carriers that created the Softcard payment platform to increase the adoption and availability of Google Wallet, which is Google's mobile payment platform that launched in 2011. Under this new partnership, Android devices sold by those carriers that are running KitKat or newer will come with the Google Wallet application pre-installed.

This cooperation between Google and the US carriers is a surprising development. In the past, the competition between Softcard and Google Wallet led to situations like Google Wallet being disabled on the Verizon Galaxy Nexus. It will be interesting to see how the expansion of mobile payments plays out with both Google and the major US carriers putting their weight behind one standard.

Source: Softcard and Google

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  • SetiroN - Monday, February 23, 2015 - link

    They could have done it so much sooner... Reply
  • girishp - Monday, February 23, 2015 - link

    I think they were trying to stick to principles, and then finally found a round about way to force carriers. Reply
  • Mark_gb - Tuesday, February 24, 2015 - link

    Apple forced this. The wireless carriers thought they had a lot more pull than they actually had. And with Apple actively trying to take over the market, and the carriers going almost nowhere, they finally relented to taking a Google buyout and working with Google in the hopes that they can get some positive returns from what was seriously beginning to smell like a almost dead cat.

    As for supporting other platforms, that most likely is going to be up to the creators of those platforms. Will the "new" Microsoft work with Google on this? Or will they want to create or use a platform they create? My best guess would be that Google will try to make this work with as many phones as possible. But they cannot force other companies to accept it... At least not until they get the acceptance of Google Wallet at millions of retailers. But that is another story completely.
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  • mebby - Monday, February 23, 2015 - link

    I use SoftCard on an AT&T Windows Phone. I am assuming that Google will dump non-Android platforms. Reply
  • Murloc - Tuesday, February 24, 2015 - link

    not necessarily. Monopolizing the NFC payment space across platform would be a good thing for them.
    If they try and use this to push android, they will just open up space for others, especially apple, given the fact that in the US the share of android isn't absolute domination like in other countries.
    Reply
  • Mark_gb - Tuesday, February 24, 2015 - link

    Since all the hardware needed to support Google wallet is built into that phone, I would assume that Google would want to support it. But there are number of factors here. Microsoft Phone sales are a miserable 3% of the market. Is Google going to bother supporting it? Is Microsoft going to allow it? Can AT&T override things if Microsoft were to try to go its own way with this, so that it would continue to work with Google? There are a whole lot of things that are going to play out on this. I doubt anyone knows all the answers yet. Reply
  • cmdrdredd - Monday, February 23, 2015 - link

    Hopefully this makes a real push to get places to accept mobile payments. I've used Google Wallet before and currently have an iPhone so use Apple Pay at some locations. There just needs to be a higher adoption rate. Aside from that, the biggest problem I find is some locations don't work even when they have the readers and the cashier is often clueless as to why it doesn't work and they don't fix it. Reply
  • cmdrdredd - Monday, February 23, 2015 - link

    Forgot to add that if adoption rate was higher and usage increased it might motivate the locations to make sure their readers are working correctly. When they work they work great, when they don't work you hold up the line waiting for it to tell you it failed. Reply
  • peterfares - Monday, February 23, 2015 - link

    "mobile payments" are just Contactless payments, and with the October 2015 EMV deadline in the USA more and more terminals are being updated. Pretty much every other country already has widespread contactless payments thanks to EMV already being implemented. Reply
  • Speedfriend - Tuesday, February 24, 2015 - link

    "Pretty much every other country already has widespread contactless payments thanks to EMV already being implemented."
    EMV compliance does not mean contactless. the last time that I checked, many of the EMV compliant POS (i.e. chip and pin card capable) for sale in the US did not have the contacless model as that adds to the cost. Even in the UK, contactless is still not availble eveywhere.
    Reply

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