Google Inc. is reportedly interested in acquiring Softcard, a mobile payments service, for less than $100 million. Softcard is a joint venture between AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile, that the search giant and Android developer hopes will improve its Wallet service amidst increasing competition from Apple Pay.
According to a report from TechCrunch, “people familiar with the situation” say that Google’s price is much lower than the money that Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile have spent on developing Softcard since it was founded in 2010. The company has laid off a number of employees as it reportedly is spending upwards of $15 million per month.
“Softcard is taking steps to reduce costs and strengthen its business. This includes simplifying the company’s organizational structure and consolidating all operations into its Dallas and New York offices, which involves layoffs across the company,” a spokesperson told TechCrunch.
Google routinely refuses to comment on speculation about acquisitions until they have been completed. Earlier reports have claimed that Google, along with Paypal and Microsoft were interested in acquiring Softcard.
Mobile payments in Softcard are processed through near-field communication, or NFC, the same kind of wireless technology used by Apple Pay in the iPhone 5S and iPhone 6. Softcard claims it can be used at over 200,000 merchants, including fast food giants McDonalds and Subway. The Softcard app works on Windows Phone and Android, making payments from connected debit and credit cards offered by American Express, Chase, Wells Fargo and others.
Google is interested in Softcard reportedly for its portfolio of over 120 patents and patent applications related to mobile payments, TechCrunch said. One former employee said that the layoffs were bad timing for Softcard, as Apple Pay could ignite interest in mobile payments.
“It’s unfortunate that they’ve chosen now as a time to scale back,” says Ed Busby, former Softcard chief commerce officer, told TechCrunch. “Externally, for the first time since I’ve been in this industry, the signs are pointing positively for mobile payments.”