So Google have unveiled Android Pay, which is in no way a copy of Samsung Pay or Apple Pay – whatever the respective fanboys (and fangirls!) may claim *winks*. We thought we would give you the basics and then have a look at a couple of elements that sets Android Pay apart from its nearest rivals.
Google is to introduce the NFC mobile payments platform called Android Pay with the release of Android M later this year, Dave Burke, vice president of engineering, announced during the Google I/O 2015 keynote. Android Pay will be an open platform that adds tokenization and fingerprint verification to Google’s existing support for host card emulation (HCE) and NFC payments and will be made available globally.
Google is working with financial institutions such as American Express, Visa, Discover and MasterCard to roll out the service. Users will also be able to activate Android Pay once their banks begin supporting it in their apps. However, thanks to their acquisition of Softcard earlier this year, Google will also be working with companies such as AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon so customers can transfer their Android Pay credentials when purchasing a new phone.
The payment service functions similar to Apple Pay in terms of operation and also protects users credit card data by creating a virtual credit card number to be used for in-store transactions (tokenization for the initiated). Owners of Android phones with fingerprint readers will also be able to authorize purchases, similar to Apple Pay. If the phone is ever lost or stolen, users can access Android Device Manager to instantly lock their device from anywhere, secure it with a new password or even wipe it clean of your personal information.
Google also say that over 700,000 retailers in the U.S. that accept contactless payments will also accept Android Pay. The service will also be available for in-app purchases from Uber, Lyft , Hotel Tonight, Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, McDonald’s and other vendors. US retailer Target will be one of the first to support fingerprint-based Android Pay purchases in-app.
Something that is different to Apple Pay is the inclusion of loyalty programs into Android Pay. Retailer loyalty programs and special offers will be automatically applied at checkout. For example, when you tap to buy a Coke at a vending machine, your MyCokeRewards will be automatically applied. With Android Pay the contactless terminal not only receives your payment info, but also your loyalty programs and offers.
However, the New York Times have also reported this week that Apple is preparing to unveil enhancements to Apple Pay that will include the launch of a rewards program for the mobile payments service, according to reports. “People familiar with Apple Pay said that, next month, Apple will announce such a program offering perks to consumers who make purchases with the service, though they declined to reveal details,” says the newspaper.
Google have also emphasized that they are offering developers an open platform to collectively push mobile payments forward. Something that Apple can be a little reluctant to encourage. “We believe the same partnership model that fueled Android’s growth will enable Android Pay,” said Burke.
“Android Pay is cloud based, which provides the flexibility for all of the players [in mobile payments] except for Apple, which is hardware based,” said Richard Crone, a payments consultant. “This will spur everybody on to develop mobile pay technology.” That difference will not be apparent to consumers, but will allow Android Pay to scale quickly, said James Anderson, a group executive for platforms and emerging payments at MasterCard.”We have been working for the past year and a half on HCE, so we are excited that Android is taking it to the next level,” he said. MasterCard will also be able to leverage its digital enablement service, a program designed to accelerate the development of payments technology, to boost Android Pay. “Issuers that are part of that initiative will be able to seamlessly incorporate Android Pay,” Anderson said.
Android Pay will be available on Google Play for download soon.