Google have announced that Android Pay is now officially available in the UK. This allows users of Android smartphones to make contactless payments much in a similar way to iPhone users. The UK is the first country besides the US that can currently use this method of contactless payment via a smartphone. Jimmy McLoughlin, The Institute of Directors lead on the Digital Economy has stated that: ” The arrival of Android pay once again demonstrates how the UK is a global leader in uptake of digital technologies,”.
The benefits of this app will be enormous whereby certain apps will allow its users to use Android Pay to pay for goods and services on their devices instead of with a traditional check out. It has been released that JD Sports, Deliveroo and YPlan will be some of the very first companies to support Android Pay for purchases, but it is enviable that more companies will jump on the bandwagon.
Google will also be offering a unique offer system called ‘Android Pay Day’. The offers is to commence on the last Tuesday of every month starting in June. Retailers including big names like Starbucks UK and Deliveroo who will have special offers dedicated to android users. Loyalty cards can also be integrated into Android Pay. Android Pay Day includes monthly discounts on coffee and takeaways to get the consumer hooked on mobile payments. More offers are said to be rolled out in the next coming months. With London’s Underground network also supporting Android Pay for travel the app works in very much the same way as with Apple Pay.
Any smartphone running Android 4.4 KitKat or later and NFC, will allow users to buy goods and services anywhere with a contactless payment terminal. This means that all versions of Android supporting the new payment system include Android 4.4 KitKat, 5 Lollipop and 6 Marshmallow which accounts for 75.6% of all Android devices in operation today, according to data provided by Google. This might be a concern for some as not every Android smartphone supports NFC, however, the contactless technology that also allows instant Bluetooth pairing with supported devices, is included on the vast majority of the top and middle-tier Android smartphones that are now being sold in the UK today.
Users just need to simply download the Android Pay app from the Google Play store, register their credit or debit cards, and then start paying by touching their phones to payment terminals in shops – just as they would with their contactless cards.
The payment system supports both MasterCard and Visa cards from at least eight of the major banks including, but not limited to: the Bank of Scotland, First Direct, Halifax, HSBC, Lloyds Bank, M&S Bank, MBNA and Nationwide Building Society who will be supported from launch off. This means that some big-name banks such as Barclays, Natwest and Santander are not yet supported, but Google have responded to this criticism by highlighting that new partners are being added all the time.
Barclays recently unveiled its own unrelated contactless payment app for Android devices, which will be built into the Barclays mobile banking app.
One of the major concerns in the world today is in regardless to privacy and security. It is important to be aware that user’s credit card information is never sent, and transactions are immediately confirmed to aid in identification of any suspicious activity if a user falls victim to fraud. Similar to Apple Pay on the iPhone and Samsung Pay on Samsung Android devices, Android pay uses tokenisation to secure payment information. This means that real credit or debit card number data is not sent. Instead, it uses a virtual account number that provides an extra layer of security. As soon as the user makes a purchase, they will receive a payment confirmation that shows where a given transaction happened, so it’s easy to catch any suspicious activity.
However, commenting on the launch, Ernest Doku, telecoms expert at uSwitch.com, said that is would take years, not months, to build trust in mobile payments among the mainstream. He went on to say that security will be a concern that Android must overcome for payments on a daily basis, especially for the older generation. One of the potential issues with Android Pay is that users can make transactions of up to £30 without even unlocking their phones. To pay for goods costing less than £30 using Android Pay, the smartphone simply needs to be awake and tapped on to the contactless reader. For transactions higher than £30, they will need to enter their PIN, security pattern or fingerprint similar to how Apple Pay works.
This may prove to work in Android Pay’s favor as the low barrier to entry means it will have a more wide-reaching impact on how Brits pay for goods than Apple Pay has had alone. If the phone is ever lost or stolen, you can use Android Device Manager to instantly lock the device from anywhere, secure it with a new password, or even wipe it clean of personal information.
The UK is the first market out of the US to see Google’s contactless payments system roll out, after Android Pay launched in the US in March last year. Samsung Pay has yet to reach the UK, which leaves only a small collection of mobile-network tied with contactless payment services. In-fact, Apple Pay is the only smartphone-based systems until now. Samsung Pay, which also makes use of NFC and a magnetic stripe for payments, has yet to launch in the UK, but it is expected to be released soon.
The market opportunity for technologies companies including Google, Samsung and Apple is clear, but it is unclear how frequently smartphone-based payment solutions such as Apple Pay are being used. In January Transport for London recorded 3.2m journeys using mobile devices in six months from July, but Apple has yet to release numbers related to Apple Pay transactions. Only time will tell, but what is certain is that the Android Pay contactless system will give a high number of the public the opportunity join in with the contactless payment revolution making all our lives more convenient and transactions much less of a hassle for us all!