Google to Acquire Softcard Technology, Take on Apple Pay

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Earlier this week, Softcard announced that Google had “acquired some technology and intellectual property” from the company in what sounds like a new effort to take on Apple Pay.

While it’s unclear exactly what’s going on, Softcard did mention that it will be shutting down its app and that all Softcard wallets will eventually be terminated.

In the meantime, you can use the Softcard app to tap and pay at more than 275,000 locations nationwide, but in the near future you’ll need to download Google Wallet.

Softcard noted that existing users will need to sign up separately for Google Wallet and enter their credit card and loyalty cards again if they want to continue tapping and paying.

The company was originally created back in 2010 by a trio of cell phone providers, including AT&T Mobility, T-Mobile USA and Verizon Wireless.

But mobile payments never really took off stateside, and now that Apple Pay is out and getting the star treatment from the media, the company’s prospects looked pretty bleak.

However, because Google is now taking the reins, there is hope that Softcard users will finally be able to use the service in a meaningful way.

Google also announced that the Google Wallet app (including the tap and pay functionality) would come pre-installed on Android phones (running KitKat or higher) sold by the aforementioned cell phone providers in the United States later this year.

My Experience with Softcard

I have the Isis Wallet (now known as Softcard) app on my phone and I’ve used it a handful of times to take part in some generous promotions.

But I’ve experienced problems on a number of occasions actually trying to get the technology to work. I remember a recent visit to CVS; I threw on the special case and tapped it against the terminal at checkout.

My phone indicated that it worked, but the cashier kept telling me it didn’t go through. She also informed me that it “never works” and that the system is old and unreliable.

Long story short, I don’t really bother with Softcard because it rarely seems to function properly (and I look like a buffoon) and very few merchants actually accept it.

The hope is that Google will change that and make it a serious contender to Apple Pay, hopefully on the same platform (because I don’t have an iPhone 6).

That way both Apple Pay and Softcard users can tap to pay all over the place. It would certainly be nice to add all my credit cards to Google Wallet and leave the physical wallet at home.

But only time will tell if that’ll be a reality. Until the integration is complete I’ll continue to swipe reluctantly.

Update: Wells Fargo has announced that its credit cards will no longer work with Softcard after March 31st, 2015.

(photo: brionv)

Author: Colin Robertson

Colin created this blog after spending several years in a job that required him to scour credit reports on a daily basis. His goal is to help individuals better understand their credit and get the most out of credit cards.