Softcard Mobile Payments Venture Closes

It’s official. After selling core technology to Google, and agreeing to pre-install Google Wallet on their smartphones, AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile US are formally closing the Softcard mobile payments service.

Instead, customers are directed to Google Wallet as an alternative. The end of the Softcard business is not the first time a mobile operator consortium has closed.

ABN Amro, ING, KPN, Rabobank, Vodafone and T-Mobile abandoned their planned mobile payments  venture in 2012, for example.

In the United Kingdom, O2 has shuttered its mobile wallet application, while France’s Bouygues Telecom apparently has ended its NFC program as well.

It probably is notable that those failures affect ventures aimed at retail payments. Services focused on mobile banking services, or money transfer services, seem to be doing much better.

Globally, 255 mobile money ventures are operating in 89 countries, according to the GSM Association. Those services include remittances (sending money to another person or entity), insurance, credit or savings services.

Mobile money is generating substantial revenues for a growing number of mobile service providers, GSMA says. At least 11 providers reported generating more than US$1 million in revenues during the month of June 2014, and all but one of these providers were mobile operators.
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