The rumor that Google was working behind the scenes to bolster its Wallet service was spot on.
The company took to its commerce blog today to announce it’s acquiring “exciting technology and intellectual property” from rival service Softcard, which was the preferred tap-and-pay service of wireless carriers.
It’s not a full company acquisition, and it doesn’t appear any employees from Softcard are joining Google. But whatever the technology is, Google clearly thought it was worthy enough to pump up its own service.
To further boost Google's mobile payment plans, Google Wallet will now come pre-installed on devices running KitKat or higher on AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile. This gets it right in front of consumers who may be more willing to check it out if it’s already on their new device.
This partnership with the carriers is key for Google because Samsung just bought mobile payment service LoopPay, which could become the default mobile wallet solution on its own line of Galaxy smartphones.
Such is the challenge Google faces by not having complete control over its ecosystem, unlike Apple. However, with more devices launching with Google Wallet pre-installed it may have an easier time convincing new phone buyers to ditch their physical wallets for buying thing.
The story behind the story: The recent success of Apple Pay has reignited Google Wallet. More stores are accepting NFC payments, which means that both Apple Pay and Google Wallet are accepted. Even though Google debuted Wallet in 2011, it’s been a rocky ride so far. Some carriers blocked it in favor of Softcard (which changed its name from Isis).