Google is preparing to acquire mobile payments provider Softcard for up to $100 million (£66m), according to reports.
Softcard, formerly known as Isis, has struggled recently, cutting 60 jobs as it attempts to streamline its business. It is now believed to be in talks with Google ahead of a potential buy-out, sources cited by TechCrunch have said.
The payments firm was created as a joint venture five years ago and has since received with hundreds of millions of dollars from its parent companies, US telecoms giants AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile.
According to Softcard, its NFC mobile payments system is available at over 200,000 merchants in the US, including the likes of Subway. It is also supported by Android and Windows Phone operating systems, but not Apple’s iOS.
An acquisition by could help Google to rival other technology firms that are moving into mobile payments, such as Apple, which has already launched its Apple Pay service in the US ahead of a wider roll-out this year.
Google has had limited success with payments in the past, with its Wallet service failing to drive widespread adoption of the technology since launching four years ago. Meanwhile, others such as Twitter and Facebook have shown interest in supporting purchases and transfers via their sites.
However, this growing interest is perceived as a threat by some within the banking industry. Although it is considered unlikely that Google or Apple would provide their own banking services, a recent report by software provider Temenos showed that a growing number of senior finance professionals see significant competition coming from tech firms in the payments space.
“Clearly, rapid digitisation, in conjunction with other factors – such as diminishing customer loyalty and transformative technology changes – is opening the industry to these technology vendors, many of whose business models are built on an ability to turn vast quantities of data into meaningful customer insights,” wrote report author Ben Robinson.
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