Google Wallet never really took off, but that didn’t stop the search giant from participating in the mobile payment game. Wallet is still around, but it is used as a method of sending payments to friends, family and other parties – you could say it’s similar to PayPal.
But what happened to the mobile payments part of Google Wallet? It has been re-branded as Android Pay. So, how exactly does all of this work? I have been testing Android Pay and running all around town using it, so let’s dig right into the details.
How is Android Pay different from Samsung Pay and Apple Pay?
Mobile payments revolve around these three services, so it is only natural to wonder how they are different from each other. Going in depth would require a whole separate article, but we can easily tell you the noticeable differences as a consumer.
Samsung Pay is likely the most convenient out of the three, as it can be used with any POS system where you can swipe your card. On the other hand, Android Pay needs to work through an NFC chip and retailers need to partner up in order for the contactless purchase to work, much like Apple Pay.
How to set up Android Pay
Android Pay is very easy to set up and plenty of Android phones nowadays come with the application pre-installed. If it’s not, though, you can easily download it from the Google Play Store.
Once you have Android Pay installed, getting things ready is a breeze. Of course, that is if your bank is supported. If it is, you can simply open the app and hit the “+” sign to add a credit or debit card. Alternatively, one can also add gift cards or loyalty program details.
Let’s stick to adding a credit card for now. By the way, you may see that some cards are already added the first time you use Android Pay. These could be cards you have used to purchase things through Google, in the past. Not seeing the right one? Just take a picture of a card to add it.
As you can see in the video, my Chase card wasn’t supported. This is really a bummer, but I borrowed a card from a friend and was able to get Android Pay set up in seconds. Not the best first impression here, especially considering Chase is no small bank. But I suppose this is how it goes with newer technologies.
Any security concerns?
Dealing with money is a very delicate affair, after all, most intruders and thieves are looking to get it from you. Security and privacy are important, but so is convenience. Thankfully, you get both with Google. Not only is Android Pay easier than using a traditional card, but it is also a lot safer.
When your phone makes a payment via NFC, no credit card information is being transferred; Android Pay works with tokens. The only information being exchanged is a randomly generated 16-digit number. This means your credit card and personal info will be safe in the case of a breach into the store system or NFC reader.
Unlike Apple Pay’s randomly generated codes, which are created within the phone, Google’s are created in the cloud, making them difficult to retrieve. Google does make backup numbers in the case that you find yourself outside strong signal, though. Having limited or no Internet should not be an issue for making mobile payments with Android Pay.
Furthermore, a payment will only go through if your phone is unlocked, which means that as long as you have screen lock protection, your money should be going nowhere.
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Let’s take Android Pay out into the real world!
And so we hit the road and started our Android Pay adventure across the city. First stop? Walmart! It’s by far one of the biggest chain stores in the USA, so they have to accept Android Pay… right? Wrong. It didn’t work, and Walmart doesn’t accept mobile payments at all. I had to look silly and go with my archaic plastic card.
I moved on to Stop & Shop, where I was eager to purchase some veggie chorizo and mochi ice cream. Sadly, I noticed there seemed to be no NFC reader on that POS card reader. After asking an employee, we were informed that I was right. No luck here!
You know what’s worse than fumbling around for your card and going through your purse like a nut job? Trying to use your phone to pay, realizing it doesn’t work, looking like a fool in front of everyone and then having to look for your card to pay. Yep… that happened to me, so I wanted to make sure I didn’t look silly again and decided to ask if Android Pay was supported before trying anything.
No luck at Modell’s or Bed Bath & Beyond. This was getting really frustrating, guys! As a last resort, I decided to just go to Android Pay’s official website and simply check which stores accepted the service. After looking at Android Pay’s partners, I could see how new the platform was. Chances are you won’t be able to use Android Pay at a random store you walk into, but there are some options out there and the list continues to grow.
OK, so there was no going wrong after a bit of research. The next destination was Staples, where everything worked like a charm. It was super easy. I already had my phone unlocked and the payment was accepted right away. We also tried McDonald’s, where Android Pay also worked seamlessly. Sadly (or gladly), I don’t eat McDonald’s, but the birds had a great time eating them fries!
Next, we walked to Walgreen’s, a very popular pharmacy store here in the USA. They don’t only sell medication. There’s plenty to have here, and I found some toys I just had to have. Once again, Android Pay worked like a charm. I also loved the experience at Panera, Express and American Eagle Outfitters.
We decided one of my favorite places on earth would be our last stop – TOYS”R”US. I found some gorgeous little trinkets. But, surprisingly, we came across some problems here too. Apparently the system wasn’t working well, so I had to use my card again… like a caveman.
It turns out that even those who do their research may have no luck trying Android Pay, which is quite a bummer for early adopters. I didn’t expect to see so few stores being on board. I was also surprised to notice most people weren’t surprised when I did get it to work (save for the girl at American Eagle). The proliferation of services like Android Pay, Samsung Pay and Apple Pay is really helping people get used to mobile payments.
If you can get it to work, Android Pay is super fast and much more convenient than using a card. But as of right now I would rather stick to my card and know it will always go through. After all, it might not actually work and I’ll just end up wasting more time. Not to mention that I will avoid looking silly in front of other people.
Of course, it will take some time for more retailers to adopt Android Pay. But somehow I feel like Samsung’s alternative is much more convenient and avoids confusions.
How do you feel about mobile payments? Have you had your chance to try it? Hit the comments and share your own experiences with us!