Google forges mobile payments deal with US telcos

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Google forges mobile payments deal with US telcos

Buys Softcard tech.

Google has inked a deal with three of the largest cellular telcos in the United States to distribute its Wallet tap-and-pay service to their customers, in an attempt at keeping skin in the mobile payments game.

Ariel Bardin, Google's vice-president of of payments, said AT&T Mobility, T-Mobile USA and Verizon Wireless would pre-install the Wallet app with tap-and-pay near-field communications capability on Android phones sold by the carriers.

Together, the three telcos hold around 83 percent of the US cellular market, with approximately 301 million subscriptions between them.

Android version 4.4 "Kitkat" or higher will be required for Wallet.

Google will also incorporate intellectual property and technology from Softcard, a joint mobile payments effort set up by AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless.

The move places Google in competition with Android phone vendor Samsung, which acquired payments startup LoopPay earlier in February, and Apple Pay, which launched in October last year.

Although Google has tried to make Wallet attractive to vendors by not charging fees for payments -instead earning revenue through targeted ads and tie-ins with its other digital properties - the service has not met with widespread acceptance.

Further limiting its potential, Google decided not to introduce Wallet outside the United States. In August last year, Google Australia managing director Maile Carnegie categorically ruled out Wallet coming to the Australian market.

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