We’re still in the midst of Google’s I/O developer conference, but the company has already pulled the wraps of its new mobile payment experience – Android Pay.
Google Wallet was the company’s existing platform, but resistance from carriers in the US to support it and little traction elsewhere meant that it never really took off; Android Pay is different.
For starters the act of actually paying for things has been significantly simplified. The service relies on Near Field Communication (NFC) and host card emulation, features which arrived in Android Gingerbread and KitKat respectively. To pay, all you’ll be required to do is unlock your Android phone and tap it against the payment terminal, without ever needing to open up an app.
Naturally with such a simple and convenient service, users will want to know that their financial information is safe. As Dave Burke explained on stage, when you add card details to your account for use with Android Pay, Google will generate a separate virtual account number specifically linked to you, so your actual card information is never broadcast to a merchant. In addition, the announcement of standardised developer APIs for fingerprint authentication mean you’ll be able to confirm payments with your print for extra peace of mind.
Android Pay like many other facets of Android is also built on an open platform, so you won’t necessarily need to set it up using the official Android Pay app, but may instead be able to configure it using your bank’s own mobile application; provided they’re a partner. Big names like Visa, MasterCard, American Express and in the US, Discover are already on board for debit and credit card transactions, as well as the three largest mobile carriers for those of you in the US. We still don’t know who in the UK will be joining the fray.
As with Apple Pay, there’s also already a great infrastructure for accepting wireless payments in the physical world and Google made mention of some 700,000 stores in the US alone, including McDonald’s, Staples and Nike. Virtual purchases fall under the new service too, with online transaction support from Groupon to Uber and Etsy involved at launch.
We still don’t have a set launch schedule for the arrival of Android M and Android Pay might not be ready at release, but we’re hoping it’s close behind and if it makes it the UK around the same time as Apple Pay, expect things to get very interesting for your wallet.