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Google’s “Hands Free” payment method has gone live

Hands Free is Google's payment method that doesn't require you to handle cash, cards, or even your smartphone.

Published onMarch 2, 2016

When Google was teasing their Hands Free payment method last year, we didn’t really know what to make of it. The service allows users to pay at retailers and restaurants simply by mentioning that they’d like to “pay with Google.” At the time, the search giant was pretty elusive about how this system worked and what security methods would be in place. It turns out that some of our speculation was right on the money.

Hands Free is an app that runs on Android 4.2 and up or any iOS device from the iPhone 4S going forward. When you set up the app, you’ll create an account and link a credit or debit card to it. Upload a photo of yourself, and you’re good to go. When you walk into a Hands Free supported store or restaurant, the app interfaces with the cashier’s register via Bluetooth and wifi, so when you say that you’d like to pay with Google, all the cashier has to do is verify that you are who you say you are via the photo you uploaded. No cards, no cash, and you don’t even have to pull your phone out of your pocket. You just take your items and go, transaction processed.

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It’s a pretty nifty little system, although some are skeptical about how secure it is. Google says they are experimenting with additional verification methods including facial recognition cameras installed at the point of sale registers. It’s important to note that this payment system is completely separate from Android Pay, and right now it has an extremely limited rollout. Right now, Hands Free is only available in the US. On the west coast. Well, only San Francisco, actually. Actually only a small part of San Francisco. And only at a handful of McDonald’s and Papa John’s.

If Hands Free turns out to be popular and safe in this limited, public test arena, then we may see it expand significantly over the next year or so. In the meantime, what are your thoughts regarding Google’s new payment method? Creepy or the way of the future? Let us know in the comments below!

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