Ralph de la Vega, president and CEO of AT&T Mobile and Business Solutions, admitted to Forbes that mobile payments “seems like a more natural fit for [an] OS manufacturer” than for operators, following the failure earlier this year of Softcard.
The AT&T executive (pictured) claimed that while US operators failed to break into mobile payments, many of their goals were achieved.
AT&T, Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile US combined on a joint venture called Isis (later Softcard), that was closed earlier this year with certain assets transferred to Google.
“In the end, we thought we’re probably better off not investing more money in this space,” De La Vega said.
The operators wanted to “energise” the payments market and ensure that NFC became a standard. Both now appear to be happening with the launch of Apple Pay. Ironically, the launch of Apple Pay seems to have been the final straw for Softcard.
Mobile payments work better for a handset vendor, said de la Vega. “It seems like a more natural fit for the OS manufacturer doing those kinds of things. We decided to focus on another part of the business and not continue on the mobile payments area.”
However, AT&T, Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile US do retain some interest in the mobile payments market. They have an agreement to pre-load Google’s Android Pay app on Android devices they sell. Last week, the search giant released more details about Android Pay at its I/O event.