Google announced yesterday that it had struck a deal with three wireless carriers AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon as also their jointly-owned payments company, Softcard, to have its Google Wallet payment application pre-installed on Android phones sold by the carriers.
Under the deal, Google said, it acquired ''technology and intellectual property'' from Softcard. With the move, Google would get its Wallet app to a lot more people, in an area that was getting increasingly crowded.
Samsung acquired Loop Pay, last week, in a signal it was moving into mobile payments. Apple Pay, meanwhile, had been available for only a few months but had already signed up dozens of companies, which indicated paying for things with phones was gaining greater acceptance among consumers.
According to eMarketer, consumers in the US spent $3.5 billion through mobile proximity payments when people used their phones to pay for items at a cash counter. According to estimates this would grow many times over, to $118 billion in the next four years, eMarketer said.
Meanwhile, The Register reported that the carriers would start shipping the Google Wallet app later this year on mobiles running Android 4.0 "KitKat" or higher, according to a blog post yesterday by Ariel Bardin, Google's VP of payments.
He said the devices would include full support for Wallet's near field communication (NFC)-based pay-by-bonk feature.
The carriers had earlier blocked Google's payment tech from running on their devices, which left Sprint among the only one of the US "Big Four" to support it.
AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon, meanwhile, teamed up to create a competing mobile payments tech named Softcard.
Softcard was never very popular with consumers, though, and with Apple making major headway with its upstart Apple Pay system, the carriers were allowing Google into their networks.
Earlier this year, Google was reportedly contemplating acquisition of Softcard outright. That failed to come about, but according to Bardim, Google was "also acquiring some exciting technology and intellectual property from Softcard to make Google Wallet better."
In a separate blog post Google said, "For now, Softcard customers can continue to tap and pay with the app. We will share more information with customers and partners in the coming weeks."