Apple and Google have already joined the mobile payments race, but Microsoft has not announced anything until recently. Microsoft Payments inc., a subdivision of the software behemoth Microsoft, has filed for a money transmitter license in all 50 states. Apple Pay and Google Wallet, have a significant head start already and have gained a sizeable portions of the mobile payments economy, but Microsoft it seems is determined to catch up. While Microsoft has been very quite when it comes to mobile payments, SEC filings show that the software giant has been actively involved in the development of mobile payment systems since 2012.
To date, there have been no official statements from Microsoft on any potential projects currently in development, but the company did announce some interesting functionalities on the upcoming Windows 10 mobile operating system. During the recent WinHEC conference, Microsoft revealed that Host Card Emulation for NFC payments will be supported in the new Win 10 mobile OS. Host Card Emulation (HCE), allows encrypted credit card details to be transmitted without the need for special SIM cards. HCE, essentially allows any mobile device equipped with Win 10 and some additional hardware, to be fully capable of interfacing with POS terminals.
Microsoft has been on the lookout for a software architects to join the Microsoft Payments division. A recent Microsoft job posting reads, “Ever wanted to ditch your wallet, and tap+pay with your phone instead? Join the team that builds the platform for NFC payments, across all Microsoft devices.”
Apple and Google, are not the only tech giants with healthy ambitions towards the mobile payments industry, Samsung and Facebook have also started to make some strategic maneuvers and acquisitions. Facebook has launched a new payment feature on its messenger platform. Samsung isn’t far behind either, acquiring LoopPay in February of this year, a mobile wallet accepted at over 10 million merchants across the US.
The tech-giants are scrambling to capture as big of a slice as they can get from the burgeoning mobile payments space, but beating Bitcoin will be a tall order. While Apple Pay and Google Wallet may be somewhat secure, they are centralized payment solutions that have their strengths and weaknesses. In the current decentralization trend sweeping across the Internet, distributed payment systems like Bitcoin may very well take the lead.