Google may be positioning itself to add another mobile wallet under its umbrella, as reports have surfaced that the technology giant may be in talks to buy the mobile payments company Softcard. Although neither Softcard nor Google officials have confirmed the reports, TechCrunch reported that sources have said the deal could range between $50-100 million.
As the mobile payments market has shown, when it comes to breakthrough innovation, it’s not often the pioneer that gets the riches, it’s who makes it work for the masses. Google Wallet and Softcard were early innovators, but it was Apple who gave the industry a boost to the mobile payment market with Apple Pay. Now Google may be hoping to change that trajectory and ignite its own mobile wallet usage by acquiring a company with connection in the cell phone industry.
By acquiring Softcard, Google — the maker of Android — could hope to gain the partnerships that Softcard has with cell phone companies AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile, while integrating Softcard’s credit card recognition software with Google Wallet to create the first meaningful rival to Apple Pay. This comes at a time when Softcard’s structure is wavering, as the company has recently laid off 60 employees in an attempt to cut costs.
There have been multiple media reports of the possible acquisition, but Google hasn’t provided any comment other than a general statement saying there has not been any indication that a deal has been discussed.
“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,” Google said in an emailed statement to TechCrunch.
Rumors were recently swirling that Softcard was shutting down altogether and that AT&T Mobility, T-Mobile USA and Verizon Wireless were going to stop funding the NFC payments option, but Finextra confirmed that chatter was just a rumor. Softcard has also made some interesting marketing moves in the past year, like its $1.5 million commercial campaign that involved Tappy, the mobile payment muppet. If the rumors are in fact true, it’s unclear if the bushy-eyed signing Tappy would come along with the deal.