Google is in talks to buy rival US NFC-based mobile payment provider Softcard, according to Techcrunch.
Neither Google Wallet nor the competitive service offered by Softcard, which is owned by Verizon Wireless, AT&T and T-Mobile US, has made a substantial impact on the market.
Since the end of last year, the duo have faced heightened competition with the launch of another NFC-based service, Apple Pay, which has struck a string of distribution deals with card issuers and retailers.
Softcard, which has just laid off 60 employees, would cost between $50 million and $100 million.
Both PayPal and Microsoft are also reported to have approached the operator-backed venture. Another possibility is a takeover by one of Softcard’s three existing owners, although they have also been looking at developing mobile payment services of their own.
Google is viewed as the most attractive suitor because the operators already have a revenue-sharing model established with the search giant. It distributes some of the revenue it accrues from searches on Android devices and from its Play store to operators.
However, when it came to Wallet, Google was unable to reach agreement with the operators, which is one of the factors which stymied the service.
The mooted price would be a heavy discount, given the three operators are thought to have together invested hundred of millions of dollars in the venture.
Neither Google or Softcard were prepared to comment.