After a few months on the market Google Wallet hasn’t exactly taken off. Google wants to change that, and it’s not afraid to pay carriers to grow Google Wallet’s usage.
According to Bloomberg, people familiar with the matter say that Google is talking to Verizon and AT&T about offering them a cut of Google Wallet’s revenue. The two carriers would get a cut of Google’s profit if they support the service.
Sprint is the only US carrier that supports Google Wallet, and only two devices on the “Now Network” are capable of using it. The Samsung Galaxy Nexus on Verizon could support it given its NFC chip, but Verizon blocked the app so its customers could not install it from Google Play.
The Galaxy Nexus will launch on Sprint in the coming weeks and it will have support for the service.
Google could have difficulty convincing Verizon Wireless and AT&T to support Google Wallet, though. Both carriers, along with T-Mobile, support ISIS for mobile payments. ISIS will allegedly launch within the next few months, though movement on it has been slow.
Meanwhile, Google has continued to convince more stores like Pinkberry, a frozen-yogurt chain, to support Google Wallet.
If it doesn’t succeed in convincing AT&T and Verizon, Google has a back-up plan for Google Wallet. In the stores that use it, Google could put a system into place that uses Google’s servers to authenticate sales. The current method uses the phone, which requires carrier support.
With the workaround Google Wallet could theoretically work on any Android device with NFC without requiring hacks or rooting.
We know that smartphone users want to use their phones as credit cards, and the market is relatively untapped. From big companies like Visa and PayPal to startups like Square and Eventbrite, everybody is trying to figure out a way to make mobile payments work.
Maybe Google can work out some sort of deal with the carriers and we’ll see more Android phones with NFC. Or maybe Apple will put NFC in the iPhone 5 and support one of the methods or create its own to beat out Google.