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Is Google Preparing For A Major Mobile Payments Push?

Michael Moore joined TechWeek Europe in January 2014 as a trainee before graduating to Reporter later that year. He covers a wide range of topics, including but not limited to mobile devices, wearable tech, the Internet of Things, and financial technology.

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Reports suggest search giant is eyeing up payments provider Softcard for Google Wallet expansion

Google is looking to take on the likes of Apple Pay by launching into the mobile commerce market, according to reports suggesting the company is set to buy a leading payments provider.

Sources are claiming that the search giant is lining up a bid for Softcard as part of a bid to expand the capabilities of its Google Wallet service (pictured below). Currently only available in the US, Google Wallet can be used to pay for goods using amobile device, but has struggled to gain a foothold with consumers.

The deal could cost Google as little as $100m, a bargain price for entry into what is proving to be an increasingly lucrative market, TechCrunch reports.

Google Wallet Card 1Launching

Softcard began life as a joint venture between US telecoms giants AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile, each of which is thought to have put millions into the company since its launch in 2010, as a way to create a unified NFC payments platform. The company says it is accepted at over 200,000 merchants throughout the US, and crucially is also thought to own around 120 patents relating to the mobile payments sector.

Originally called Isis, it was forced to change its name last September following the rise to power of a militant Islamic group of the same name. Last month, the company was also forced to let go of 60 employees, meaning the possibility of major investment should be extremely welcome.

Both Google and Softcard declined to comment on the possible sale. “We don’t have a comment, background, deep background, off-the-record steer, nod, wink or any other verbal or nonverbal response to these sorts of rumours,” a Google spokesperson said.

2015 could be the year in which mobile payments really explode into the mainstream, according to recent Deloitte report which predicted that in-store mobile payments will increase by more than 1,000 percent worldwide this year.

British shoppers certainly seem to be ready to embrace mobile payments, with many leading retailers also keen to implement the technology into their stores.

A survey conducted for Oxygen8 also found that over half (47 percent) of mobile users in the UK would like to use their mobile phone more to pay for goods and services.

All clued up on mobile payments? Try our quiz!