Google Teaming Up with Carriers on Payments
Google has agreed to a deal with AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon that will make Google Wallet more competitive with Apple Pay. All three carriers will pre-install the Google Wallet app on Android phones, and Google will gain intellectual property from the carrier-owned payment service Softcard. Google beat Apple to mobile payments by several years, but in many cases, the carriers prevented Google Wallet from accessing the necessary NFC chip in Android phones.
Seems more like the following: Softcard was co-owned by the carriers and (like carrier forays into music sales and streaming) it was a bust, and the carriers were ready to exit from the market - then found an opportunity to get rid of it and make some money in exchange for allowing Google Wallet onto their network's phones.
Google didn't want Softcard but they bought it (and a handful of non-essential patents) just to make inroads in the mobile market.