When Google purchased the technology behind the Softcard mobile payments system last year the future of mobile payment services on Microsoft’s Windows Phone operating system seemed murky at best. Luckily for potential buyers of the company’s future iPhone 6 and Galaxy S6 rivals, the company seems to have a payment system of its own in development.
Applications found by Faisal Kahn, a banking consultant indicate that Microsoft registered a company called Microsoft Payments Inc. this past February. In the documents, which were submitted to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, Microsoft Payments Inc is classified as a Money Services Business.
If these documents are an accurate indication of Microsoft’s future plans, the company is planning on launching its own mobile payments services for the Windows ecosystem. In theory, offering its own mobile payments service will allow future iPhone 6 rivals from Microsoft to compete for the same shoppers who are drawn to the device because of Apple Pay and the Samsung Galaxy S6 because of the upcoming Samsung Pay service.
Mobile payment systems are great because they allow you to keep you credit card or debit card in your wallet where it’s safe. Instead of sliding a piece of plastic, Apple Pay users unlock their iPhone 6 and tap it on a receiver near the a credit card machine. The credit card machine and the iPhone 6 quickly share payment information wirelessly and securely. The charge still gets routed directly to your account.
When it launched as ISIS Mobile Wallet a few years ago, Softcard appeared to be the one standard every carrier was rallying behind. That soon changed. For starters, Softcard never attracted as much attention as Apple Pay, even though it was available before it. Second, getting Softcard to work wasn’t’ exactly easy. Users had to order a specialized SIM card to go in their smartphone and download a compatible app. Apple Pay gets it right by integrating all of this into the operating system. It appears that’s what Google has in store for Softcard now that it owns the technology. Before Apple Pay, Google Wallet was the only serious mobile payments provider in the United States.
Windows Phone 8.1 doesn’t support mobile payment systems in the way we’re now used to. The operating system also requires that users have a secure SIM card. It’s one of the main reasons why every Windows Phone device comes equipped with a digital wallet. Softcard was the only provider of NFC-based mobile payments on the operating system. Users can still pay for things using apps like PayPal, but that’s it. This new Microsoft Payments Inc solution to mobile payments won’t force users into loading a secure SIM into their smartphone.
It’s worth noting that Microsoft hinted at mobile payments being a big focuses for its mobile operating system in the near future just a few months ago.
Presumably, support for what Microsoft Payments has in the works will arrive with the Windows 10 mobile operating system Microsoft is working on. Last month the company began letting members of its Windows Insider Program test a very, very early version of the operating system. Called Windows 10 for Phones, apps on Windows 10 for notebooks, desktops and tablets will also work on Windows 10 for Phones. If it’s anything like Windows 8, settings and customization options will sync between the two operating systems as well.
Microsoft plans to launch Windows 10 sometime this summer. Whether Windows 10 for Phones and this Microsoft Payment functionality will meet that deadline isn’t yet clear.