Google Wallet never really gained popularity. It was fun paying for things by tapping your phone to a sensor, but not enough people knew about it or could even use it (thanks, carriers!). I always thought that the day Apple introduced NFC payments would be the day it would become widely used. Little did I know that it would do exactly the opposite.
Quite a few stores have now disabled NFC payments in reaction to Apple Pay. These stores include Walmart, Best Buy, Kmart, 7-Eleven, CVS and more. While it’s reported that this is to shut out Apple Pay, it also has the side effect of disabling services like Google Wallet and Softcard. Yep, NFC payments are now facing some serious trouble.
This trouble comes as future competition, as these stores are creating their own mobile payment system that will be called CurrentC. The goal is to avoid credit card fees normally associated with such mobile payment methods by drawing straight from your checking account. Using this app would net you exclusive coupons and promotions to thank you for saving the retailer money.
However, I think these retailers have forgotten about Softcard. The carriers blocked Google Wallet while creating the service, put tons of money into it, netted a lot of partners and even pre-installed the service on all carrier smartphones. None of this made it the least bit successful, and CurrentC will most likely fare no better. I can’t imagine people picking up a new service just for a few stores when Apple Pay or Google Wallet would be so much more simple. Such is life when you don’t learn from past mistakes.