Ahead of Apple Inc. (AAPL)’s Entry, Google Inc (GOOG) Is Pushing Payments

The mobile payments industry doesn’t have clear leadership right now. There are a slew of companies trying to tap the space, including eBay Inc (NASDAQ:EBAY)‘s PayPal and start-ups like Square, but no contender has emerged as the dominant player.

Of the five tech giants currently at war, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) have the most immediate structural advantages since mobile payments will inevitably be driven by smartphones, and iOS and Android power over 90% of all smartphones sold. Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN) has 209 million active customer accounts with payment info on file, but the e-tailer doesn’t operate a smartphone platform (yet).

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) is a first-mover in mobile payments with Google Wallet, but it has failed to move the needle even after launching two years ago. Meanwhile, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) hasn’t made any official forays, instead only offering Passbook that doesn’t have a direct way to make payments. The Mac maker is widely expected to enter in a big way as early as this fall, since the iPhone 5S will likely include a fingerprint sensor for biometric security. Those 575 million active iTunes accounts are just waiting to be tapped.

Mobile payments are too important to ignore, and Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) is making a renewed push with Wallet ahead of Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s presumed entry. The search giant has launched a fresh promotion to encourage developers to integrate Google Wallet into their apps. At Google I/O in May, the company had also unveiled a new application programming interface, or API, for developers to integrate Google Wallet into their Android apps. Google said only 3% of shoppers on mobile devices complete checkouts because there are so many steps.

Big G is broadening its horizons beyond just in-app purchases of virtual goods; Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) is facilitating the payments for third-party merchants selling physical goods and services.