Android Pay brings contactless payments to a wider audience but has no Santander, RBS or Barclays support at launch
Android Pay is now available in the UK and can be used wherever contactless payments are accepted – so long as the user has a compatible card and their bank supports the service.
Google’s rival to Apple Pay works with all NFC-enabled Android devices (running KitKat 4.4 and above) and launched in the US last year. It is claimed 1.5 million users are signing up for the service each month.
To get started, users must download the Android Pay app from the Google Play store and need to have a MasterCard or Visa debit or credit card from Bank of Scotland, First Direct, Halifax, HSBC, Lloyds Bank, M&S Bank, MBNA and Nationwide Building Society.
Android Pay in the UK
American Express cards are not supported at launch despite working the US, while NatWest, RBS and Santander accounts are not compatible. Barclays told TechWeekEurope earlier this year that it had no plans to support Android Pay and launched its own competing Android service last week.
Businesses with contactless terminals do not have to do anything to enable Android Pay which when combined with the huge number of Android devices being used in the UK, should ensure wide adoption. The service is also compatible with a number of Android applications.
Even still, ‘Android Pay Day’ will serve up special offers the week before actual pay day, with Starbucks and Deliveroo among the first to reward adopters.
But perhaps the most important supporter of Android Pay is Transport for London (TfL), which has introduced many passengers to contactless and mobile payments. The average number of journeys made on London’s transport network using mobile devices has increased from 7,500 a day to more than 35,000, with more than 200,000 unique devices used to make trips in the six months leading up to February – an increase of 1,000 devices per day.
Security an issue?
Industry observers suggest the popularity of Android will be a boost to contactless payments, but many will still have concerns about the security of the operating system.
“Android Pay’s low barrier to entry – most smartphones are NFC-enabled these days – means it’ll have a more wide-reaching impact on how Brits pay for goods than Apple Pay has had alone,” said Ernest Doku, telecoms expert at uSwitch.
“The flipside of the convenience of using your phone as a wallet is the openness of the Android platform. Security will be a concern that Android must overcome for payments on a daily basis, especially for the older generation. A survey we carried out revealed 57 percent of Britons don’t feel comfortable paying for goods and services through their mobile phones, and 45 percent are concerned about security and fraud.
“It’ll take years not months to build trust in mobile payments among the mainstream and, while the openness of Android as a platform for developers might be a good thing for the user experience, just one data breach or financial hack could destroy all that trust and goodwill – so vigilance is key.”
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