Google Wallet has been around since 2011 to help Android users pay for goods using their phones.
So, on Monday, Google gave a big boost to its mobile wallet. It announced it’s acquiring Softcard, a mobile payments company backed by Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile.
Before, Google Wallet had limited availability because those three wireless carriers wanted to promote Softcard instead. Sprint was the only major US wireless carrier that officially supported Google Wallet. Now, when you buy a new Android phone from any of the major US carriers, that phone will have Google Wallet.
Google Wallet’s functionality will now come pre-installed on all Android phones running KitKat (Android 4.4) or higher sold by any of those carriers later this year.
Google also announced it’s “acquiring some exciting technology and intellectual property from Softcard to make Google Wallet better.” Softcard also confirmed the news on its website.
Ariel Bardin, Google’s VP of payments, says the company has “more to come” as it’s been working to make Google Wallet “even more useful to you,” but it’s unclear when we’ll see any new features. For now, though, putting Google Wallet in all future Android smartphones will be a big boost for Google’s payments platform as it looks to compete with Apple Pay.
Adding all the major carriers, as well as Softcard, will let more Android owners take advantage of Google’s tap-and-pay system. But, Google Wallet still faces an uphill battle: Apple Pay is off to a strong start, and Samsung’s next flagship phone will reportedly come with its own mobile payments built-in thanks to LoopPay, which is compatible with traditional magnetic card readers — unlike Apple Pay and Google Wallet — and supports 90% of all point-of-sale terminals.
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