While you have Apple Pay for the iPhone, Google's system is called Android Pay.
Android Pay launched on 11 September 2015 in the US and has been growing in supported banks State-side since launch. The service launched in the UK on 18 May 2016, but other territories have yet to get Android Pay.
Whether you are still waiting for Android Pay to arrive, or whether you are in the UK and wondering how it works, here's everything you need to know about Android Pay.
What is Android Pay?
Android Pay is a mobile wallet that can store your credit cards, debit cards, loyalty cards, etc. If that sounds a lot like Google Wallet, it's because Android Pay is the new Google Wallet (only it's supposed to be better, more convenient, and secure).
How does Android Pay work?
- Look for the Android Pay app on your phone. It is preloaded on several devices, but you can also simply download it from Google Play. It's only available in countries that support Android Pay, however.
- Add a credit or debit card within the app. If you already have a card in your Google account, you can add it to Android Pay by confirming a few details. If you're adding a new card from any participating bank, snap a picture via the app.
- That's it. Simply unlock your phone and tap to use Android Pay at any contactless payment terminal. You can also use an Android Wear watch, providing it has an NFC chip and Android Wear 2.0. On the LG Watch Sport - one of only two watches to support Android Pay for now - you simply need to press the bottom button to instantly access the feature.
When Google first unveiled Android Pay, it said you would be able to pay for goods by simply unlocking your Android phone like you normally do (which also enables Android Pay to authenticate your transaction), then placing it near a merchant's contactless terminal, and that's it.
Keep in mind, according to Google, you can pay for purchases under £30 without unlocking your phone (the screen just needs to be on). For purchases above that, you'll need to put in your authentication.
You don't even need to open an app to process a payment. It just lets you tap and go, and then you receive the confirmation/transaction details on your phone. Also, when you pay at select retailers, your loyalty points and offers will be auto-applied at checkout.
But let's not forget Google is an advertising company that's also in the business of making partnerships with other companies. So, you might also get special offers piped to your phone.
Android also offers a "Buy with Android Pay" button in apps, meaning you'll be able to tap a button and swiftly checkout, rather than having to enter your credit card and shipping address each time you make a purchase.
Apps like Chipotle, Domino's, Dunkin Donuts, Etsy, Groupon, GrubHub, JackThreats, Lyft, and OpenTable support Android Pay in the US.
In the UK, apps including Fancy, Deliveroo, Kickstarter, JD Sports, Zara and more support in-app payment. Again, this makes things simple to pay and we should see this list of apps expanding over time.
On of the missing aspects of mobile payments has been browser payments. When an online store doesn't have an app, you often have to login and plug in your details, or use a service like PayPal. Although Google hasn't said much, it has mentioned that it will be moving onto the mobile web by enabling payments through Chrome. This should make purchases from ad hoc stores much simpler and easier.
There's currently no date on when this addition will come, but we'd expect an announcement shortly.
Which devices are Android Pay compatible?
Android Pay works with all NFC-enabled Android devices running KitKat 4.4 and above and Android Wear watches with an NFC chip and running Android Wear 2.0. Currently that only includes the LG Watch Sport and LG Watch Style. You don't need to have an Android phone either, as Android Pay will play nicely with iOS devices too.
It will work in any place that has a contactless payment terminal and Google has said that merchants don't need to do anything extra to support Android Pay.
Android Pay: Does it require a fingerprint reader?
No, because not all Android devices have a fingerprint scanner. Android Pay also accepts a PIN code, password, or pattern in order to authenticate a transaction.
Android Pay: Which banks are participating?
Android Pay works with your credit and debit cards from the following US financial institutions: American Express, Discover, MasterCard, and Visa. These cards are issued by the following US banks and credit unions: American Express, Bank of America, Discover, Navy Federal Credit Union, PNC, Regions Bank, USAA, US Bank, Citi, Wells Fargo, and Capital One.
Android Pay works with your credit and debit cards from the following UK financial institutions: Visa and MasterCard cards are supported. These financial institutions support Android Pay in the UK: Bank of Scotland, First Direct, Halifax, HSBC, Lloyds Bank, M&S Bank, MBNA, Nationwide Building Society, Natwest, Santander and Ulster Bank.
Google has confirmed it is always working with new partners to expand the range of supported banks.
Where can you use Android Pay?
Simply put: you can use Android Pay anywhere you can use Apple Pay (or any place with a contactless terminal). Google said it works across 1 million US locations, including everywhere tap-and-pay payments are accepted, such as:
Google's Android Pay website has a list of stores - and it includes Best Buy, Game Stop, McDonald's Petco, etc.
In the UK it's a similar story. With a well-established contactless payment system, Android Pay will be widely supported at most locations with over half a million on the list.
Is Android Pay secure?
Google said it was working with leading payment networks and financial institutions in the US to deliver industry-standard security tokenisation. With tokenisation, the retailer receives a newly-generated, 16-digit virtual number instead of your actual account number. So, should there be another major credit card data breach at a retailer, you'll at least know your card is safe.
Android Pay's tokenisation is different from Apple Pay's in that tokens aren't generated in a secure chip within the phone but rather within the cloud. But if you're ever in a place without internet, Android Pay will apparently still be able to access some tokens that are stored on your device, thus allowing you to pay for your goods and be on your merry way. Simples.
When will Android Pay launch?
Android Pay is already available in the US. You can download it from Google Play. It will also come preinstalled on new NFC-enabled Android phones from AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless.
Android Pay is available in the UK. Again, it can vibe downloaded from Google Play and as long as you have a compatible bank, you'll be able to pay away using your Android device.
Want to know more about Android Pay?
Check out Google's Android Pay website for more details.