Google is in talks to buy US telco-owned mobile payments venture Softcard for between $50 million and $100 million, according to press reports.
Earlier this month, Softcard laid off around 60 staff as part of a cost cutting exercise amid rumours that owners AT&T Mobility, T-Mobile USA and Verizon Wireless had decided to stop funding the outfit.
Now, according to the Wall Street Journal, citing sources, Google has entered exclusive negotiations to buy the company for at least $50 million, seeing off rival interest from PayPal. TechCrunch, which first reported the news, says the price could be up to $100 million.
Softcard and Google are refusing to comment.
Although the price would see the telcos take a major loss on the hundreds of millions of dollars they have invested in Softcard, it could see them carve up advertising revenue from the mobile payments service with Google, says the WSJ.
For Google, the deal would help in its efforts to battle Apple for a slice of the mobile money market. The firm's Google Wallet has so far failed to take off - in large part because of a lack of cooperation from the telcos.