The mobile wallet game just got a whole lot more interesting.
After weeks of speculation and even some early starts as some particularly impatient and inventive Android users figured out how to access and use Android Pay via the Google Play App, Android Pay is officially ready and open for business.
“Today, we’re beginning to roll out Android Pay — the simple and secure way to pay with your Android phone at over 1 million locations across the U.S.,” Google wrote on its blog. “We’ll be rolling out gradually over the next few days, and this is just the beginning. We will continue to add to even more banks and store locations in the coming months — making it even easier to pay with your Android phone.”
Android Pay is compatible with all NFC (or HCE) enabled devices using any OS released since KitKat. Google officials confirmed for PYMNTS that Android Pay is compatible with roughly 70 percent of the Android phones currently in the U.S. Android Pay also launches with the support of all of the major card networks - American Express, Visa, MasterCard and Discover – as well as many of the top issuers - Bank of America, Capital One, Navy Federal Credit Union, PNC, Regions Bank, USAA and U.S. Bank. Wells Fargo and Citi are allegedly planning to add their support within the next few days.
As for where to use Android Pay, according to Google’s blog post, over 1 million locations (“and counting”) are available, including Macy’s, McDonald’s, Rite Aid, Panera and Whole Foods (among others).
Android Pay also utilizes tokenization to secure cardholder data and transactions.
“This means that Android Pay won’t send your actual credit or debit card number with your payment. Instead, we’ll use a virtual account number to represent your account information,” Google noted on its blog.
Today is Day 1 for Android Pay - with more to come soon according to its corporate parent - particularly with in-app purchases powered by the platform. Those with Android phones running compatible operating systems can download the app from the Google Play store over the next few days - and going forward the app will come pre-installed on all new NFC-enabled Android phones from Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile.
“With Android Pay what we really wanted to do is reset how we are thinking about payments on the [consumer’s] device. Previous attempts have been more of a clunky add - it wasn’t an organic part of its use,” Pali Bhat, Google Director of Product Development, noted in an interview with MPD CEO Karen Webster prior to the launch. “Now it is an embedded function of a consumer’s Android device.”
[bctt tweet="With Android Pay what we really wanted to do is reset how we are thinking about payments"]
Bhat and Webster spoke extensively about the launch - and what’s next for Android's answer to mobile payments. Tune in tomorrow to read about their full discussion and Android Pay’s impact on the payments ecosystem more broadly.