Google launch Android Pay in the UK

Photo by Jonas Lee on Unsplash

Last week Google launched their Android Pay contactless payment technology in the UK – in direct competition with Apple’s Apple Pay service. Android Pay supports both contactless and in-app purchases and the tech giant have high hopes for the new technology here. The UK is only the second market the product has been launched in following it’s debut in the US two months ago.

More than half a million merchant partners have signed up to accept payments via Android Pay in the UK – including famous high street names, such as Boots and supermarkets including Aldi.

The payment technology offers two levels of access – making it less susceptible for high value fraud. Payments under £30 can be made simply by tapping the user’s Android Pay enabled android phone onto the payment device – the same as contactless payments being made by card, which are also available up to £30. For payments over £30 the user can unlock their phone – either with a pin or fingerprint login – to provide an extra level of security, reducing the opportunity for theft.

Android Pay differs from Apple Pay, in that it is more accessible. Apple Pay is only available for people who use relatively recent iPhone models (iPhone 6 and above), whereas Android Pay has been specially designed to work on both new and older model android phones – as long as they are enabled with NFC (near field communication) technology.

Speaking to Retail Week about the launch, Pali Bhat – senior director of product management at Google – explained how they expect this increased level of accessibility to drive widespread adoption of the new technology:

“The majority of Android devices will be able to use the technology and certainly any Android phone made in the last three years.”

Google hope that by making the technology more widely available at launch – and with a strong network of participating merchants, the contactless technology will be more widely adopted than it’s first-to-market predecessors. They have also added payment facilities for making contactless payments on the London Underground and anticipate that this will also drive implementation.

As more android smart watches and devices become available, the popularity of contactless payments shows no sign of waning. More and more consumers are using them, both via card transactions and mobile devices. Visa reported that contactless payments accounted for more than 3 billion transactions in Europe last year – and Mastercard are taking steps to replace all of their payment terminals in the UK so that every single one will be contactless by the start of next year. Banks such as Nat West have also offered consumers incentives to try using contactless technology with 1p in the pound cashback for each transaction made. In this climate, it seems that Google have picked the perfect moment for this launch and surely now the days of chip and pin are numbered.