Google isn’t exactly new to the mobile payments world, but the company has today revealed an all-new platform designed to compete with the growing popularity of Apple Pay.
Android Pay was unveiled at Google’s I/O developer’s conference, and it’s set to replace current service Google Wallet as the go-to mobile payments app for Android users. Like Apple Pay, Android Pay can be used both for tap-to-pay sales in retail stores, and for in-app purchases on your device.
While Google initially announced the service in March, details were scarce until today’s presentation. Now we know that users will be able to pay with their phone wherever they see an NFC or Android Pay logo, by simply unlocking their device and tapping it against the register’s sensor.
How it works and where you'll use it
Customers can make payments via credit and debit cards from Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express, and Android is guaranteeing all card payments will be made with industry standard security tokenisation. As each card is assigned a virtual account number in order to process payments, your card and personal information isn’t used or recorded when making a transaction.
You’ll also be able to link prepaid and small-business cards to Android Pay, including merchant loyalty cards and apps. Google stated that it is currently working with major wireless carriers to ensure that its Pay service will be ready to use on future Android devices, straight out of the box.
As well as integrating with apps such as Uber, Groupon, and Expedia, Android Pay will be accepted at launch by over 700,000 US stores across the country. US retailers already equipped to process NFC smartphone payments include Macy’s, Bloomingdales, Best Buy, Walgreens, Staples, Whole Foods and McDonalds.
Taking down Apple Pay
In addition to going head-to-head with Apple, Android Pay will also compete with Samsung's own Samsung Pay platform, which is now available for American customers using the Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge flagship smartphones - although at this early stage, the S6-only payments system has yet to take off with consumers.
With Apple’s burgeoning Apple Pay platform working to popularise mobile payments with iOS fans, Google is hoping its rival payment service will do the same for Android users across all devices. With around 75% of smartphone users operating Android worldwide, it’s a huge market - and Google has promised that 7 out of 10 devices will be compatible with Android Pay by launch time.
Google is scheduling Android Pay to roll out Stateside later this year, alongside its upcoming Android M launch, with the service open to developers. Unfortunately, there's no details yet on when the payment service will be available to Android users outside the US.
As for Google Wallet, it won’t be killed off altogether; instead, you’ll be able to use your Wallet to make Play Store purchases, and to transfer payments through apps such as Gmail.