Is ‘Microsoft Pay’ in the Works? (March 31, 2015)
Mobile wallet rivals for Apple Pay, including Samsung Pay and Google Inc.’s rumored Android Pay, may face another giant tech competitor. Microsoft Corp.’s latest moves suggest it may brand its own mobile payments service, too. Technology blogger Faisal Khan this week reported the discovery of documents indicating Microsoft recently set up a new company called Microsoft Payments Inc. The State of Idaho’s Department of Finance granted a license to the new unit for money transmission, according to the state agency’s Website.
Microsoft also showcased a new service called “Tap to pay” in a short video during the WinHec tech conference earlier this month in China, where the Seattle-based computing titan announced its new Windows 10 operating system, due out later this year, will support NFC and host card emulation (HCE).
Microsoft has been pursuing new payments technology for a while. PayPal early this year announced its collaboration with Microsoft to accept EMV card payments via Microsoft’s tablets and phones. And, in November 2014, the company rolled out a Windows Phone app for Softcard, the telco-led mobile wallet. (Google in February acquired the Softcard’s technology and intellectual property, and shut down the service this month.)
If Windows 10 unifies Microsoft’s latest phones, tablets, PCs and gaming devices on a single operating system, as some experts forecast, it could expand the audience for any potential payments apps or services Microsoft is developing. Windows Phones account for roughly 3 percent of smartphones worldwide, while iPhone and Android handsets dominate the U.S. market.
Microsoft isn’t commenting on its payments plans, but observers say the latest rumblings show how important having a payments strategy is becoming across the technology sphere. “The reaction to Apple Pay from Samsung and Google demonstrates that in the mobile device world, having a competency in mobile payments is an important part of a go-forward strategy,” Josh Gilbert, a partner with consulting firm First Annapolis, tells Paybefore. “At this time last year we were wondering when something big might happen in mobile payments, and now it seems something big happens every other week.”
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