After a false start yesterday and numerous rumours throughout the week, Android Pay has officially been launched in the UK.
On 17th May Google got a bit ahead of itself when it tweeted out from the Android Twitter account that the payment service has launched. However, when users were unable to download the app from the Google Play store, the company quickly followed up with the following tweet:
Excited for #AndroidPay in the UK? We are too! Not quite there yet, but keep checking back ?
— Android (@Android) May 17, 2016
However, on 18th May, the app officially went live:
— Android (@Android) May 18, 2016
How it works
The service works on Android versions 4.4 and higher that also have an NFC chip. As with any other contactless transaction, payments under £30 do not have to be authenticated, with users merely being able to tap-and-go. Payments over £30 can be authenticated by unlocking the smartphone either by PIN or fingerprint.
Like Apple Pay and Samsung Pay, Android Pay uses tokenisation to protect user information. The user’s card information is never sent anywhere, instead it uses a virtual account number to represent your account information.
If the phone ever gets lost, users can lock the device via Android Device Manager.
Where it works
Visa credit or debit cards and MasterCards from the Bank of Scotland, First Direct, Halifax, HSBC, Lloyds Bank, M&S Bank, MBNA and Nationwide Building Society all support Android Pay. Barclays is the obvious exception since it is planning on releasing its own contactless payments service in June.
Transport for London will also work with Android Pay as it did with Apple Pay.
See all the stories on Android Pay.
Alongside the Android Device Manager, Android Pay also offers gift cards, loyalty schemes and offers.
On its developer page, the Save to Android Pay API lets Android Pay users view and use their loyalty cards/gift cards/offers on any Android device that has access to the cloud. Specifically, the API allows users to add a company’s loyalty programme/offers & coupons/gift cards to their digital wallet.
They’ll then get location-based notifications reminding them to use it when they’re in your store. When they make a purchase, they will be able to share their loyalty information by showing the barcode on their phone or automatically sending it via NFC. They can also use the Android Pay app to track their activity, rewards, and loyalty status as well as balance on gift cards.
The UK is the first country to see and use the service after the US and some people have actually expressed surprise that it has taken so long.
“It’s amazing really, that Android Pay took so long to come to the UK. The UK has long fallen in love with contactless payments, in London especially, where it’s now impossible to get on a bus without paying by contactless card/Oyster. Likewise, Android is the number one mobile operating system in Britain. If anyone can compete in the race vs Apple Pay, it’s not Samsung or Barclays, it’s Android,” said Jens Bader, CCO of UK payments company, Secure Trading.
The contactless scene
There hasn’t been a better time to enter the market. Contactless usage is growing 36.5% year-on-year, and £1.3 billion was spent using contactless means in February. According to the UKCA, British people made over 60 contactless transactions every second in February.
In Europe, people managed to make over three billion contactless transactions in the last 12 months on Visa cards alone.
See how the rumours of Android Pay’s launch trickled out this week.
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