Over the past few weeks, there were rumors on all of the major tech blogs about Google's possible acquisition of the multiple carrier backed SoftCard Mobile Payment System (formally ISIS). With the rise of usage and promotion of Apple Pay, it seemed like Google needed to up its advertising and promotion game with Google Wallet to gain market share of devices and use of its Mobile Payment system.
Google announced today that they will be working with AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless to bring Google Wallet to all Android Phones with KitKat or higher. They also announced that with the acquisition, they will be:
Could this mean the return of Token Based NFC payments like Apple Pay? Token Based NFC payments is the method that Apple Pay uses where a one-time-use token is generated and passed to the contactless payment terminal. In this way, the credit card details are never passed directly to the vendor to better protect to the customer. This method also directly ties to the credit card so that points and cash back rewards are accurately accumulated. The original inception of Google Wallet had a Token Based payment but it was changed later to a Virtual MasterCard Debit card after carriers blocked the usage of Google Wallet on AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon in favor of their Token Based NFC Payment system. Sprint is the only US carrier who supported Google Wallet.
Perhaps this acquisition will push Google Wallet to world-wide support, as Apple Pay is set to debut in the UK sometime this year. We will have to wait an see what's in store when Google makes it's Google Wallet announcement during Google I/O in late May.
According to Android Beat Google is trying to redesign its Wallet service to better compete with its newest competitor, Apple Pay. The biggest hurdle, according to the article, is the amount of partners that it has to deal with. Google has to contend with the fact that its operating system is used by many hardware manufacturers that customize the Android OS and some that even have competing mobile wallets, like Samsung. Apple does not have this problem because all their hardware is made by them.
Another problem lies with the carriers who regulate the way the phones they sell work. SoftPay (formally Isis) was a mobile payment platform developed by AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile to compete with Google wallet. The carriers went so far as to disable the NFC secure element in phones to push their SIM card based solution.
Google has a challenge ahead as it ties to pull all of their partners together to push Google Wallet to a more mainstream presence.
TechCrunch is reporting that Google is rumored to be in talks with Verizon T-Mobile and AT&T backed SoftCard. TechCrunch says the deal is supposedly under $100 million which would be a great bargain for Google to gain more patents in the contactless mobile wallet world. SoftCard is reportedy in a consolidation phase in their business and has already laid off about 60 percent of their workforce. TechCrunch reports that Microsoft and PayPal are also trying to acquire the mobile payment company.
Disney has announced that the Walt Disney World Resort will start accepting contactless payments (including digital wallets) on December 24, 2014. As part of the MyMagic+ retrofit, the payment terminals at food and retail establishments now have an NFC reader. This allows for the use of Google Wallet, Apple Pay and SoftCard along with RFID enabled credit cards and MagicBands/MagicCards.
The MyMagic+ experience is enabled by the purchase of a MagicBand or MagicCard. Guests staying at the resort will be able to make purchases by tapping their MagicBand or MagicCard, that is tied to their payment card, on the payment terminal. They will also be able to use those devices to reserve FastPass+ spots and use it as a key to enter their resort room. Embeded within the MagicBand is also a Bluetooth transmitter that helps Disney track guests around the park and possibly customize their park experience in the future.
You will find many of the tiny Apple Pay sticker added to credit card terminals at merchants that proudly proclaim their support for the new iPhone 6. This user submitted picture shows a rare sight of a Google Wallet Logo (along with SoftCard) on the large Verifone MX925 terminal screen at Toys-R-Us in Pearlridge Center.
Android Google Wallet users, check your Google Wallet app-- you may have received a free $5 gift credit! There has been many reports of free credits from Regal Cinemas, Toys R Us, Whole Foods, AMC Theaters, and Staples. You must claim the gift to keep it.