It appears that Apple Pay’s wave of smartphone-paying-customers is causing Google to rethink its strategy in the mobile payment world. According to reports from both TechCrunch and the Wall Street Journal, Google is in discussion of purchasing the company Softcard, a mobile payment organization. It is rumored to be discussing a buyout at a surprisingly low price, below $100 million dollars; despite hundreds of millions being invested in the company. Softcard is an app on your smart phone, similar to Apple Pay, that allows you to make purchases with your credit card using Near Field Communication (NFC) technology.
According to TechCrunch, when Google was approached for comments they responded with an interesting statement:
We don’t have a comment, background, deep background, off the record steer, nod, wink or any other verbal or non-verbal response to these sorts of rumors…
This is an interesting move considering that Google already has (and has had for years – since early 2011) a mobile payment app, Google Wallet. The service has struggled with adoption of its mobile payment service since inception. Due to the high cost of NFC payment systems and low number of users, retailers have struggled to justify adopting the technology. Conversely, because of the low number of supporting retailers, Google Wallet users have also struggled to adopt the service. How effective is a wallet replacement if it only works in 20% of the places you pay? This is another classic example of the cart before the horse conundrum.
However, it appears that the recent release of Apple Pay to a world of new users is reinvigorating the mobile payment market and Google is likely hoping to ride the wave and revive its struggling payment app. Buying out the company Softcard (who has also been struggling) would bring Google a large amount of expertise in the industry to assist in innovating and driving the service forward. Hopefully these initiatives will help drive retailer adoption so that consumer adoption becomes realistic.
What are your thoughts on the matter? Do you think Google really needs Softcard to make Google Wallet a success? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.