After years of seeming like an experiment from Google, it looks like they’ve decided to put more emphasis on the Mobile Payment space and take Google Wallet more mainstream.
The mobile payment space has been a hotly contested and very difficult realm to play in, with Carrier partners creating their own format, multiple different NFC competitors, and of course Apple Pay, Google has had a fight on its hands even though it entered the space in 2010. Googles Wallet app was introduced in 2010, but didn’t really start gaining traction in 2011 when they incorporated NFC tap and pay functionality, and by that time AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon had partnered up and created their own platform ISIS. ISIS obviously has become synonymous with something else lately, so in 2014 it was re-branded to Softcard but hasn’t had any real public adoption.
Today Google announced via its commerce blog that it is purchasing technology from Softcard and will be working with carriers AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile to have Google Wallet installed on all Android phones running KitKat and higher, starting this year. Google has had a hard time getting its Wallet app to work across carriers other than Sprint, but this deal, means that is all going to change.
Now Google can build on and promote its Wallet app the way that it should because everyone who has an Android phone will have access to it and be able to use it without any additional steps or hurdles. Also since Softcard already has agreements in place with major credit card companies that means more usability and accessibility for Google Wallet something which has been less than stellar since its launch.
It will take a while for all these changes to take place and the app to be updated to take advantage of the new technology, but the fact that Google is pushing harder into the space means they know how valuable it is and that they’re not ready to give it to Apple without a long fight.