Google Acquires Softcard and Partners with US Carriers On Mobile Payments
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.