Despite a series of challenges and missteps from Google Wallet's earliest days, the app has tightened its grip on the Android ecosystem and squeezed out the competition — and Google must now decide whether Apple Pay is its next target or its most unlikely ally.

Google's footing has never been more secure. After years of sparring with the U.S. carriers' Softcard wallet, Google has emerged victorious over its rival and taken over Softcard's most valuable assets. With alternatives like Samsung Pay and CurrentC yet to arrive, Google has a clear road ahead of it.

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