Google has inked a distribution deal with the biggest wireless carriers in the U.S. to get the Google Wallet payments app pre-installed on their phones. At the same time, Google is buying technology from Softcard, the mobile payments app backed by the same carriers.
The deal will see Verizon Wireless, T-Mobile and AT&T pre-install Google Wallet on their Android phones in the U.S. later this year. Google Wallet allows shoppers to tap their phones to pay at checkout in some brick-and-mortar stores in much the same way Apple Pay does. The move also involves Google buying some intellectual property from Softcard, formerly known as ISIS. It doesn’t appear that any Softcard employees are joining Google as part of the deal.
In a blog post, Softcard said its users can use their mobile payments app for now. But I can’t imagine the wireless carriers behind the Softcard joint venture would agree to this deal if they planned to continue to invest in their own app. Sounds like game over for Softcard, a very expensive multi-year initiative that was essentially a flop for the wireless companies involved.
Softcard never really had a future, considering Apple has planned on entering the mobile payment space for sometime. iOS is Apple’s platform, and Apple wants to both control it and monetize it. It wasn’t about to let America’s three largest mobile carriers develop the mobile wallet that would be prevalent among iOS users.
Google feels the same way about controlling Android, of course. The carriers have evidently decided that since Apple doesn’t need or want their technology, they’ll at least recoup some money by selling it to Google. Google will probably shut it down within a few weeks, and that will be the end of Softcard.
POSTSCRIPT: Softcard will be dead by the end of March: