Google To Shut Down Hands Free Pilot

We hardly knew ye, Google Hands Free. And many didn’t get the chance to know you at all…

Less than a year after the tech giant began testing its touchless mobile pay system in San Francisco, Google reported it will soon be pulling the plug on the payments experiment.

The Hands Free pilot will end on Feb. 8, wrote Google on its website. But that doesn’t mean it’s gone forever. “Based on all the positive feedback,” Google wrote, “we’re now working to bring the best of the Hands Free technology to even more people and stores.”

Whether that means Google will be rolling out an entirely new system implementing what it learned from the pilot tests or if the technology will be leveraged in other ways, like in upcoming Android Wear devices, is unknown. The company has yet to release more information about the future of its Hands Free project.

Hands Free was designed to make payments that much more seamless by eliminating the need for a customer to pull out a device at a store’s point of sale. Where Hands Free was enabled, consumers with the app on their iOS or Android phones could just walk up and say, “I’d like to pay with Google.”

Leveraging the phone’s location sensors, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, the merchant system would pick up a customer’s location upon entering the store. To authenticate, the cashier would ask for a customer’s initials and reference a photo.

Pali Bhat, the mind behind Hands Free and senior director of product management at Google, said in an interview with PYMNTS upon the initial launch that Hands Free provided an experience similar to that of paying at a local bakery or a small storefront that gives its loyal customers the ability to walk in, grab an item and just tell the merchant to put it on their tab.


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