Sprint working on Google Wallet alternative?
New effort would be a setback for Google, which counts Sprint as its only carrier partner currently offering the Web giant's mobile payments service.
In what would likely be a setback for Google, Sprint is reportedly planning to launch its own mobile wallet as early as this summer.
The near-field communications (NFC) effort will be called "Touch," sources tell NFC Times. One of the advantages to the carrier creating its own mobile wallet is the opportunity to build relationships with banks and other service providers, something Google Wallet does not allow, the sources noted.
"The limitation isn't the wallet; the limitation is the secure element," a source at Sprint told NFC Times, adding that the Sprint wallet offers a "legitimate alternative to Isis."
CNET has contacted Sprint for comment and will update this report when we learn more. The company did tell NFC Times that it was proud to be the first carrier to offer Google's mobile payments system.
"In keeping with our open approach, Sprint is actively working with others in the mobile payment ecosystem," the company said in a statement. "We will continue to bring practical, easy-to-use mobile payment solutions to customers on Sprint devices, however, we do not have any news to share at this time."
While several other companies have announced plans to launch their own digital wallets, Google was the first to market. Google's service, which launched last September, allows owners of Android smartphones equipped with NFC technology to tap or swipe their phones to make purchases.
A new Sprint-backed alternative would be a big blow to Google as Sprint is the only carrier partner currently offering the service, although more carriers are expected to offer the service as more NFC-equipped smartphones come on the market. It's unclear whether Sprint would discontinue support for Google Wallet in favor of its own product.
Meanwhile, Isis is working on a different approach. The joint venture between AT&T, T-Mobile USA, and Verizon Wireless is working on a neutral platform that serves as a foundation for other parties such as retailers, credit card issuers, and payment networks that can plug in and offer their own services to their customers.
Isis, which has been criticized for taking far too long to come to the market, is expected to be made available to mobile customers this summer.