Google unveiled Android Pay, stating that the new payment service is “bringing together mobile carriers, payment networks, banks and retailers to deliver you choice and flexibility”.
“We believe the same partnership model that fuelled Android’s growth from a single device to seven years ago to now more than a billion users will enable Android Pay to be successful too,” said Dave Burke, VP of engineering for the company.
The search giant has unveiled a number of services that will enable it to compete with Apple Pay, the recently-launched service which has pushed mobile payments into the minds of many users – even if it is not yet clear if this has spurred widespread user adoption.
Unsurprisingly, the service – which will be launched later this year – will initially be focused on the US. It also said it is working with AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon “to ensure that when you buy a new Android phone, you can walk out the door ready to use Android Pay”.
At the heart of the proposition is contactless payment. Users unlock the phone and place it near the merchant terminal and “you’re good to go” – there is no need to open an app, and payment confirmation and transaction details are delivered to the device screen. With “select” retailers, it will also be integrated with loyalty programmes and special offers will be automatically be applied at the checkout.
Android Pay also supports online purchases, meaning “the days of entering your credit card and shipping address each time you make a purchase online will be a thing of the past”. Users will be presented with a “Buy with Android Pay” option in order to use this.
Google is promising it will be accepted at more than 700,000 store locations across the US and in more than 1,000 Android apps. It will also be supported by American Express, Discover, Mastercard and Visa.
With the service unveiled at Google I/O, an event where the company traditionally courts the developer community, it is unsurprising that third-party support was high on the agenda. The platform has been “designed to work with any payment processor”, and Google is partnering with “top payment processors including [PayPal-owned] Braintree, CyberSoure, First Data, Stripe and Vantive” to make integration easier.
And also high on the agenda was security, with Google stating that it is “working with leading payment networks and financial institutions in the US to deliver industry-standard security tokenization, to support Android Pay’s launch later this year”. Android Pay will not send actual credit or debit card numbers with payments, instead using a “virtual account number”, and lost or stolen devices can also be locked, secured or wiped using the existing Android Device Manager.
One important issue will be how the service co-exists alongside Samsung Pay, the in-house service being rolled-out by the biggest vendor of Android smartphones. While Samsung has end-to-end control of the service including the device, it is currently limited to its own flagship Galaxy S6-line smartphones, whereas Android Pay could be supported by a wide range of manufacturers with a user base into the hundreds of millions in short order – giving it the advantage of scale.