Google gave a sneak peek yesterday (May 28) into the news that the payments industry has been waiting for since the launch of Apple Pay: Android Pay.
Android Pay is the latest payments scheme the Internet giant is pinning its mobile payments hopes on after Google Wallet’s failure to ignite multiple times since its original launch in April 2011.
And, it enters a very crowded field of play.
Android Pay, which doesn’t have a set launch day, will go head-to-head in the battle for mobile payments with Apple Pay, the forthcoming Samsung Pay, PayPal, Visa Checkout and MasterPass. Google’s mobile wallet option will allow consumers to pay via their mobile device in store using NFC technology. The same stores that enable the acceptance of every other mobile payments technology that leverages NFC technology, including Apple Pay. Android Pay will work with any phone that has an NFC chip installed and will run on KitKat operating systems or newer.
And like Apple Pay, it has embraced partnerships with all four card networks – Amex, Discover, MasterCard and Visa – in an effort to make account provisioning easier.
“Mobile payments is a big priority for Google, so we’ve been working with major networks like MasterCard to help provide a seamless experience across a wide range of phones and stores. Android Pay will offer people further simplicity, security and choice when paying for things with their Android phones,” Pali Bhat, Director of Product Management at Google, said in a news release.
Google said today at its conference that the three reasons to use its new mobile payment option are “simplicity, security and choice.” The simplicity and security, of course, being at top of mind for any company wanting their card added, or any consumer looking to add those cards. Android Pay users can use their phone’s unlocking mechanism to access the mobile wallet, and a fingerprint scanner is added to enable payments to occur. Google also announced that developers can use that same choice in their own in-app payment options.
Google also said it’s working with app developers to ensure the integration of Android Pay is seamless into their own apps as a payment option.
Outside of the Android Pay announcement, Google also had plenty to share about its other newest developments — including its latest operating system, called Android M. Perhaps more interesting though was the rollout of its new feature that involved a customized dashboard of notifications based on the user’s interest, including a hover option to enable users to see information in a specific app or notification without actually opening the app. Called “Now on Tap,” this feature can help a user, for example, who’s using WhatsApp to chat with friends about a specific restaurant to look up info about it and even make a reservation in one quick tap.
In response to Google’s Android Pay announcement, a number of major payments companies released statements about their intention to support Android Pay.
MasterCard said its contactless payments are accepted at more than 3 million merchants across 68 countries, noting that its “MasterCard Digital Enablement Service enables Android Pay to deliver a simple and secure payment experience so that consumers can use their cards when, where and how they want.”
“Mobile payments are here today, and are now an essential part of the core value proposition for new devices,” said Ed McLaughlin, Chief Emerging Payments Officer, MasterCard. “With the MasterCard Digital Enablement Service (MDES) and Android Pay, we can now use secure tokens to easily enable payments from a consumer’s connected device. Today’s news extends consumer choice and drives further ubiquity of payments on devices.”
In its statement, MasterCard highlighted the security benefits of Android Pay, and the extra layer of protection its cardholders will receive since the actual number is never shared with merchants during a transaction — just like Apple Pay, which MasterCard also supports.
Visa took the Android Pay announcement as the opportunity to release more information about its Visa Digital Enablement Program — a new program designed to connect financial institutions and technology companies to streamline the rollout of new payment and commerce services.
“With so many people using Android devices and a passionate developer community, we couldn’t be more excited to have Google as a partner in our program launch,” said Jim McCarthy, Executive Vice President Of Innovation and Strategic Partnerships at Visa. “Through our new program, financial institutions can take advantage of our secure token technology to deliver the most popular mobile and digital payment services on the market today to their customers.”
Discover also highlighted the security benefits as it shared why it would support Android Pay.
“Discover’s goal is to provide our customers the freedom, options and simplicity of making mobile payments with whatever method they choose. Adding Android Pay expands Discover’s ability to enhance the convenience and experience for its mobile users,” said Heather Roche, Discover’s Vice President Of Rewards.
Braintree had plenty to say abut how it plans to integrate Android Pay to make checkout easier for merchants.
“At Braintree, we’re expanding our open platform to enable the future of mobile commerce. A key part of that is providing flexible tools that let merchants accept all relevant forms of payments so consumers can pay how they want to pay. That is the premise for our v.zero SDK — one integration, any way to pay, including what comes next,” wrote Juan Benitez, Braintree’s CTO.
“We’re excited to share that we’ve integrated Android Pay into the v.zero SDK to make it easier for our merchants to add it as a checkout option in their Android apps. We’ve connected with Android Pay on our back end to reduce the number of API calls and provide a streamlined payment flow. Starting today, merchants can sign up for Braintree’s private beta to be ready for Android Pay.With very little effort, merchants will be able to add Android Pay, in addition to credit and debit cards, PayPal, Venmo, Apple Pay, and bitcoin — all with a single integration.”
“We’re proud to be helping our customers tap into exciting new ways to pay,” said Shailesh Kotwal, Head of U.S. Bank Payment Services. “Android Pay gives our customers added value by providing another way to use their U.S. Bank credit and debit cards to pay for purchases with their mobile devices.”
USA Technologies, a wireless, cashless payment and M2M/IoT solutions for small-ticket, self-serve retailing industries, also announced its intent to accept Android Pay,
“We believe that Android Pay is the perfect match for self-serve retail. Making Android Pay available to millions of Android users will present what we believe to be a fundamental shift in convenience and adoption for consumers,” said Stephen P. Herbert, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of USA Technologies. “We anticipate that in 2015 more and more vending, kiosk, commercial laundry and unattended retail operators will move to cashless systems to meet this demand, and believe that USA Technologies is uniquely positioned to support them.”
“We’re committed to delivering simple and secure payment experiences for our members, which is why we are moving so quickly to integrate our cards with Android Pay,” said Vikram Parekh, Assistant Vice President of Credit Card Development at USAA. “Android Pay is opening up the mobile payment experience to Android users.”
“As with any payment system, the security of member data is a top priority,” said Gary McAlum, Chief Security Officer at USAA. “The features of Android Pay help ensure that our members’ card numbers are protected.”