Google Buys Softcard’s Technology, Gets Deal With U.S. Carriers

Google Inc. has acquired technology and patents from Softcard, a mobile-wallet service backed by the three-biggest U.S. wireless providers, as the Web company takes on Apple Inc. to offer more payment features on smartphones.

AT&T Inc., Verizon Communications Inc. and T-Mobile US Inc. will work with Google to pre-install the Google Wallet application on newer Android phones, the Mountain View, California-based company said in a blog post Monday. As part of the deal, Google is acquiring assets from Softcard to improve its payments service.

Google, which introduced its digital wallet in 2011, is looking for new ways to attract users as Apple’s mobile-payments service gains ground with consumers and retailers. Apple Pay already accounts for more than $2 out of $3 of purchases using contactless mobile-phone payments across the three major credit-card networks, Apple said last month.

“We’ve received great feedback from people who use this feature and we’ve continued investing to make it easy and secure for more people to pay with their phones,” Google said. “A big part of this is working with other innovators in the industry to help provide a seamless experience across a wide range of phones and stores.”

The new Google-Softcard service is set to roll out later this year, the companies said. Softcard said customers can keep using the tap-and-pay option with the application.

While Apple Pay has gained ground, EBay Inc.’s PayPal payments service remains a top provider for mobile and Internet payments. In November, Apple Pay accounted for 1 percent of digital-payment dollars spent, according to ITG Investment Research. PayPal, which has been around for 17 years and is being spun off by EBay, had 78 percent, while Google Wallet had 4 percent.

The partnership follows Samsung Electronics Co.’s announcement this month of a deal to buy LoopPay Inc. to gain a bigger toehold in mobile payments. LoopPay makes smartphone accessories that let 90 percent of credit-card payment devices accept mobile payments, Samsung said.

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