The Google Inc. Mobile Wallet application is displayed on a smartphone screen at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, on Feb. 29, 2012.
The Google Inc. Mobile Wallet application is displayed on a smartphone screen at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, on Feb. 29, 2012.  Bloomberg via Getty Images

This Is Google's Plan to Beat Apple Pay

Feb 23, 2015

Google’s mobile wallet platform is poised to get a much-needed boost through a partnership with AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon.

The search giant announced Monday that Google Wallet will come pre-installed on phones sold by those carriers beginning later this year, as long as they run the KitKat version of Android or better. Google Wallet also requires phones to have NFC (near-field communication) technology.

Google is also acquiring the technology behind Softcard, the carriers’ mobile payments platform, as well as its intellectual property. For now, Softcard will continue to be available as a separate app. A blog post by Softcard says the company will share more information about the app’s future in the coming weeks.

Like Apple Pay, Google Wallet and Softcard both use NFC technology to let users seamlessly make in-store purchases with a tap of their phones. Google has never disclosed how many people use Google Wallet, but one estimate by The Guardian pegged the total number of people who have downloaded the app at south of 20 million.

However, the arrival of Apple Pay has spurred the adoption of NFC-enabled point-of-sale terminals at retailers, which benefits Google as well as Apple. With millions more customers soon to have access to Google Wallet when they unpack their new phones, it seems like the app could indeed be a formidable competitor to Apple’s offering.

The 10 Most Ambitious Google Projects

A driver drives a Google Inc. self-driving car in front of the company's headquarters in Mountain View, California on September 27, 2013.
Google Driverless Car The Google Self-Driving Car has been in the works since 2005 after a team of engineers won a grant from the U.S. Department of Defense to design an autonomous car. The project, which aims to reduce traffic accidents, has made headway in recent years as states passed laws permitting self-driving cars. Google plans a commercial release between 2017 and 2020.David Paul Morris—Bloomberg/Getty Images
A driver drives a Google Inc. self-driving car in front of the company's headquarters in Mountain View, California on September 27, 2013.
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Vic Gundotra, director of product management of Google, demonstrates Google+ on the Nexus 7 tablet during Google I/O 2012 at Moscone Center in San Francisco on June 27, 2012.
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Google Driverless Car The Google Self-Driving Car has been in the works since 2005 after a team of engineers won a grant
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