To Fight Apple Pay, Google Is Trying To Get Cozy With Wireless Carriers And May Even Pay Them


Don't count Google Wallet out in the mobile payment market just yet.

If a new report bears truth, the search titan is gearing up its three-year-old payment technology for greater adoption and use and hoping to pull some big names onto the Google Wallet bandwagon.

Google is reportedly looking to form a Google Wallet love fest among smartphone makers, wireless carriers, financial institutions, credit card companies and anyone else the Android-based payment system can hook up with, according to a Wall Street Journal report. The report claims Google may be willing to pay carriers to promote and market Wallet on smartphones.

The news comes on the heels of Apple Pay recently getting a rousing endorsement from the federal government. Apple Pay can now be used by veterans and Social Security clients for payments, and the service will work with Direct Express payment network and government cards issued through GSA SmartPay. The GSA SmartPay processes more than 87.4 million transactions that are worth $26.4 billion every year.

Apple Pay, which debuted in October 2014, came out of the gate with most major credit cards on board, including American Express, Bank of America, Capital One, JPMorgan Chase, MasterCard, Visa and Wells Fargo.

The report also arrives as competition in the mobile payment market is getting hot. Samsung is reportedly developing it own payment service and expected to officially debut it in March.

Now, Google obviously wants to feel as much love for its Wallet and is reportedly willing to make it a lucrative endeavor for any partner joining up. The news report claims Google will unveil a "new" Wallet service in late spring at its developer conference.

Between now and then, Google is hoping to build up its user and fan base and supposedly offering carriers and smartphone makers more revenue as incentive to boost the adoption of Google Wallet.

The effort may be as hard as herding cats, said a payment analyst.

"It's a mess," said Tim Sloane of the Mercator Advisory Group, in an interview on a research report he issued on Google's mobile payment strategy.

The key to Google's success, noted another industry watcher, will be the quality of service a newly revamped Wallet would provide users.

"If payments become a standard feature of phones, Google has to have a service on a par with Apple or better," said Marc Freed-Finnegan, an-ex Google Wallet executive and now CEO of Index Inc., a retail startup.

Google does have a few positives in its favor in forming a Google Wallet adoption coalition. Four years ago wireless carriers T-Mobile and Verizon joined forces to develop their own mobile payment system, which became known as Softcard and which Google may now be interested in acquiring.

While Softcard wasn't a good thing for Google Wallet, as the carriers also blocked Wallet from their systems and wouldn't pre-install the app on smartphones, the vendor system does illustrate their lack of love for Apple Pay. That's a big factor Google Wallet and Google have in their favor.

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