The Internet-search giant is trying to organize an unruly coalition to shape a new version of its Google Wallet payment service. Google hopes to unveil the new service at its developer conference in late May, said people familiar with the matter.
Google, however, exerts less control over the smartphones that use its Android mobile operating system than Apple Inc. does over its iPhones. Smartphone makers and wireless operators offer many options of Android devices, with different preloaded apps.
Further complicating Google’s task is that some of its “partners” have plans for their own payment services. Samsung Electronics Co., the biggest maker of Android phones, plans to unveil its own payment service using technology from LoopPay Inc. A person familiar with the Samsung-LoopPay deal said big smartphone makers envision few benefits from cooperating with Google Wallet.
By contrast, Apple controls the iPhone’s hardware and software, giving it a big advantage. Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook said last week that Apple Pay was only possible because of this control. “Imagine trying to do this with several different companies,” Mr. Cook told an investment conference. “You’d be pulling your hair out.”
Persuading Android partners and financial-service companies to support its payment service requires Google to “herd the many cats involved,” wrote Tim Sloane from Mercator Advisory Group. “It’s a mess.”
Still, Google has to aim for success, because Apple Pay could become a draw for people to buy iPhones, instead of Android phones. Mr. Cook said last month that Apple Pay accounted for $2 of every $3 spent using contact-less payments on the largest payment networks.
Apple Pay “has changed the dynamics” of mobile payments, said Marc Freed-Finnegan, a former Google Wallet. “If payments become a standard feature of phones, Google has to have a service on a par with Apple or better.”
Google’s chief business officer, told investors that Google is working on a “fully functional payment system” that goes “beyond just tap and pay.”