Mobile-Payments War Heats Up: Google Nets Carrier Deal to Take on Apple Pay

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Google is locking arms with the carriers to ensure that Apple doesn't run away with the mobile-payments industry.

On Monday morning, the company announced it reached a deal with three telecom companies -- Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile -- and acquired some technology behind their jointly backed digital wallet, Softcard, to spread the search giant's reach in mobile payments. Google Wallet, its digital payment product, will be embedded with Android devices running on the three wireless networks, the company announced in a blog post.

Google is only acquiring certain intellectual property from Softcard, the payments company formerly known as Isis. Sprint, which declined to participate in Softcard's founding, in 2011, is not included in the arrangement. Both Google and Softcard declined to comment, pointing to their respective blog posts.

Launched in 2011, Google's payment offering has failed to find a widespread consumer foothold. As has Softcard, whose struggles were assigned to weak branding and Apple. Softcard began in 2010 -- and rebranded this summer -- and relied exclusively on NFC technology, the payment system used in few retail terminals, in part due to Apple's reticence to embrace it. Apple introduced NFC capability this fall, with its own wallet product, Apple Pay. In November, Softcard embarked on a $1.5 million digital marketing campaign.

Google's moves arrive five days after Samsung, its largest hardware partner, agreed to buy its own mobile wallet company, LoopPay.

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