With Android Pay, you can start leaving your wallet behind as anyone with a compatible device can pay for goods and services with a simple tap of your phone against a compatible point-of-sale terminal. via the NFC contactless payment system. Here’s everything you need to know about Android Pay, including the places and banks that support it.
Updated on 03-23-2016 by Andy Boxall: Added confirmation Android Pay will launch in the U.K. very soon, including details of supporting banks
International release plans
Android Pay isn’t available worldwide yet, but that’s changing in 2016, and the U.K. is likely to be the first location outside the U.S. to support the mobile payment system. Google says Android Pay will come to phones in the country in the next few months, indicating it’ll launch before summer.
When it arrives, both MasterCard and Visa debit and credit cards from co-operating banks will work. Google’s first financial partners to be confirmed are Bank of Scotland, First Direct, Halifax, HSBC, Lloyds Bank, Nationwide, MBNA, and M&S Bank. Android Pay operates using NFC technology, and is compatible with most tap-and-pay terminals that are already in use.
Retailers that will accept Android Pay payments include Costa Coffee and Starbucks, Boots, Waitrose, Aldi, Superdrug, and KFC, plus like Apple Pay, Transport for London’s ticketing system will support it. Various shopping apps such as Deliveroo, Fancy, Kickstarter, Zara, Takeaway.com, and Hotel Tonight will offer Android Pay as a payment option. The final launch date for Android Pay hasn’t been announced.
The official news of Android Pay’s impending U.K. launch comes after a spate of rumors. Most recently, a report published by The Telegraph quoting anonymous insider sources said the Google mobile payment system would go online in the U.K. at the end of March, but this now seems highly unlikely.
Google has said Android Pay will arrive in Australia in the first half of 2016, and that it’s working with Australia’s major financial institutions such as Westpac and ANZ, as well as with merchants such as 7-Eleven and McDonald’s to bring NFC payment terminals. The search giant said Android Pay will come to more countries throughout 2016.
Although you’ll probably use Android Pay mostly in shops, it will also let you make in-app purchases. When you’re about to purchase something in an app that supports the service, you’ll see a button to pay using Android Pay, eliminating the need to get your wallet and pull out your credit or debit card. At the moment, Google has listed more than a dozen apps that support in-app purchases with Android Pay including Lyft, OpenTable, Hotel Tonight, and Instacart.
As an incentive to start using Android Pay, some of these apps are offering deals, such as $20 off on OpenTable dining, or $10 off your Lyft ride.
Android Pay only works if you have NFC
For Android Pay to work, your phone must run Android 4.4 or higher. Compatible Android devices must also have an NFC chip, which means if you have a device like the OnePlus 2, you will not be able to access Android Pay.
Any store with NFC terminals supports Android Pay
Like all other forms of NFC payment, Android Pay will be accepted in more than one million stores across the United States, including Toys ‘R’ Us, GameStop, Subway, Whole Foods, and more. Walmart does not accept contactless payments, yet.
Limited support for NFC payments is the main hurdle systems like Android Pay face in the United States and elsewhere. However, Apple Pay has managed to increase the amount of interest in contactless payment, which in turn helps Android Pay to be accepted at all of these stores. As more stores switch over to the EMV standard in the United States, NFC adoption could rise as well.
Many banks and credit cards support it
As far as bank and card support goes, MasterCard, Visa, American Express, and Discover support Android Pay. Most banks that already support Apple Pay will back Google’s service, since both use similar NFC technology for payments.
Google specifically mentioned American Express, Bank of America, Discover, Capital One, Citi, Navy Federal Credit Union, PNC, Regions Bank, TD Bank, USAA, Wells Fargo, and U.S. Bank. You’ll also be able to store credit, debit, gift, and loyalty cards on Android Pay.
Like most NFC payment systems, Android Pay comes with all the necessary security, including a way to shut down devices that have been stolen, so nobody can use your card. The system uses tokenization, which processes transactions via individual random account numbers, rather than your actual credit or debit card account number. In-app purchases are as safe as its NFC contactless counterpart.
There are a lot of big players in mobile payments these days, the most iconic of which are Apple Pay and Samsung Pay. Google’s Android Pay will compete with both services, but it is quite similar to Apple Pay in its implementation and reliance on NFC technology.
In contrast, Samsung Pay uses a unique system that is capable of manipulating regular card registers. The MST technology, which Samsung acquired for $200 million, allows the payments service to be compatible in every store that supports credit cards with magstripes. As such, Samsung Pay has a much longer reach than Android Pay and Apple Pay, though it is limited to Samsung phones and the Gear S2 smartwatch only.
It will be interesting to see how Android Pay fares in the market. We’ll keep you updated as more partners and details are announced.
Updated on 02-29-2016 by Andy Boxall: Added rumors of Android Pay’s launch in the U.K. at the end of March
Updated on 12-15-2015 by Julian Chokkattu: Added news about Google adding the ability to make in-app purchases with Android Pay and its future rollout in Australia.