Two days ago, Google announced a deal with Softcard to preinstall Google Wallet on U.S. carrier devices. News surfaced today that the Softcard wallet app, available for both Android and Windows Phone, will soon be shut down. We reached out to both Google and Softcard for some clarification.
As first spotted by Twitter user Brian Campagna, a FAQ page for the Google deal explains, “The Softcard for Windows Phone app will also be terminated. A specific termination date will be provided soon.” Yet this doesn’t just affect Windows Phone.
Softcard is killing off all its wallets, which includes Google’s mobile platform as well. The FAQ notes this without explicitly saying Android: “In the near future, the Softcard app will shut down and all wallets will be terminated.”
Softcard (formerly known as Isis Mobile Wallet and later renamed to avoid branding issues related to terrorism) is a joint venture between AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon in the mobile payment space. The wallet uses near-field communication (NFC) tech to let users pay by tapping their mobile device on a payment terminal.
This tap-and-go feature already exists in Google Wallet for Android (but not Google Wallet for iOS), so the Softcard deal isn’t changing anything for the Google Wallet app itself. Because Google didn’t acquire Softcard, merely some assets, there has been quite a bit of confusion surrounding this deal.
In short, this was primarily a distribution play: Google is partnering with AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon to push Google Wallet on devices running Android KitKat and above. The company isn’t bringing Softcard technology to Android, iOS, or Windows Phone; the acquired assets and intellectual property are not affecting the app’s features on any mobile platform.
Softcard is pointing its users to download Google Wallet, which again only has tap-and-pay on Android. Because there’s no Softcard app for iOS, Apple users aren’t affected by the fact Google Wallet doesn’t support tap-and-go — and they have Apple Pay anyway. Because Google Wallet doesn’t exist for Windows Phone, once Softcard kills its app, Microsoft users will be left out in the cold, again.
Some will blame Google for striking a deal that indirectly ends up hurting Windows Phone users, while others will blame Softcard for killing off its Windows Phone app when there isn’t a proper alternative. At the end of the day, it will likely be Microsoft who has to come up with a solution, especially with Windows 10 coming out later this year.
We have contacted Microsoft and will update you if the company has a statement regarding Softcard’s move.