More and more, people are paying for items in the real world using their smartphones, thanks to the introduction of mobile payment services. One option is Android Pay, developed by Google to be used on both Android smartphones and Android Wear-based smartwatches. In this article, we will give you all the information you need about Android Pay, including its history, how and where to use it, and most importantly what banks currently support it.
What is Android Pay?
Android Pay was first announced by Google at its 2015 I/O developer conference, and it officially launched a few months later on Sept. 11, 2015 in the U.S. Android Pay is a successor, kind of, to the older Google Wallet, which is still around but is now used by people to send money to others. Android Pay, on the other hand, is a full mobile payment system, designed to let people purchase items and services both online and in the real world.
While it launched first in the U.S., Android Pay has since expanded its reach and is now available from banks and other financial institutions in the UK, Canada, Ireland, Poland, Singapore, Australia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Belgium, Japan, Russia and New Zealand. It is scheduled to launch later in 2017 in South Korea and Brazil. Recently, a report has claimed that Google plans to launch a separate payment service, Google Tez, in the huge market of India. It will reportedly work with the Indian government’s Unified Payments Interface (UPI) for mobile transactions.
How does Android Pay work?
Google’s payment service uses near field communication (NFC) technology on supported smartphones and smartwatches. A user stores their credit or debit card information on their Android Pay account, and when they want to pay for an item or service, they take their phone or watch and place it near the retailer’s point-of-sale terminal. A signal is sends the payment information from the phone or watch to the POS terminal through NFC hardware. Android Pay can also be used on some NFC-enabled ATMs so users can get cash money from their bank account, again without having to pull out their credit or debit card.
While Android Pay is mostly used to pay for items in the real world, many Android apps support purchasing products with the service as well. Some retailers also support purchasing items via Apple Pay from Google’s Chrome web browser. Finally, you can also store and use a number of gift cards and retailer rewards cards on your account. For an additional amount of security, you can set up Android Pay so that, if your phone has a fingerprint scanner, it can be used to verify the payment within the app. Android Pay users can also type in a passcode to do the same thing if they don’t have a fingerprint reader.
How is Android Pay different from Apple Pay and Samsung Pay?
The big (and pretty obvious) difference between Android Pay and Apple Pay is that Apple’s service cannot be used on Android phones or watches; it is only available on iPhones and Apple Watch devices. Otherwise, it works much in the same way that Android Pay does, as both use NFC hardware to pay for items at POS terminals.
Samsung Pay is available on a number of recent Samsung-based smartphones, along with its Gear S2 and Gear S3 smartwatches. The biggest difference is that Samsung Pay, in addition to supporting NFC-based terminals, can also use Magnetic Secure Transmission (MST) technology. Samsung has put in a magnetic coil inside some of its recent Galaxy smartphones, and the field created by that coil, combined with the Samsung Pay app, can be used to transmit payment signals to normal credit and debit card terminals. In essence, Samsung Pay make those terminals think they are being accessed by a normal magnetic strip found in credit and debit cards.
Again, only a select number of Galaxy smartphones currently support Samsung Pay. In addition, the company recently announced Samsung Pay Mini, which can only be used for online purchases.
How to set up Android Pay on your phone
If you want to start using Android Pay on your smartphone, and if your bank or financial institutions happens to support it, the good news is that it is pretty easy to set up. Indeed, it’s likely that if you purchase a new Android phone, the Android Pay app is already pre-installed. If that’s not the case, you can download Android Pay from the Google Play Store.
Then you just tap on the app and hit the “+” sign to add a credit or debit card from your supported bank. Again, you can also add supported gift cards or loyalty program details to your Android Pay account. Some users might already see that their credit or debit card is already available in the Android Pay app. That’s likely because they used them to purchase items via Google in the past.
How to set up Android Pay on your smartwatch
If your smartwatch has Android Wear 2.0 installed, you can also set it up so that you can pay for goods and services via Android Pay. You will have to have the Android Pay app set up on your smartphone first. Then you tap on the app on your watch. It will offer you an option to add a new card, and direct you to use your phone. On your phone, you can tap on which card you want to use on your Android Wear watch, enter a security code, and it should be available to use on your smartwatch. You will also be given an option to set up a passcode or pattern for some extra security.
How secure is Android Pay?
We live in an age when not a week goes by before a major new security leak is publicly reported. Naturally, there is considerable anxiety around Android Pay security. In this case, if you use your phone or watch to send a Android Pay-based payment to an NFC terminal, a randomly generated 16-digit number is sent, rather than your credit card and personal info. That means if that terminal or store you’ve used is hacked, your personal financial info should be safe.
Once more, that random number is stored in a cloud server, rather than on your phone, for some extra protection. Finally, payments are only sent out if your phone is working and unlocked. If it is locked and not in use, your account should be safe.
Where is Android Pay supported and what banks use it?
As we mentioned before, Android Pay is available in a number of countries as of this writing, including the U.S., the UK, Canada, Ireland, Poland, Singapore, Australia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Belgium, Japan, Russia, and New Zealand. More countries plan to add support for the service in the future.
Here’s a list of the current banks and financial institutions that support Android Pay for each country. Keep in mind that these lists are always changing and expanding, so if your bank is not on this list, it’s very possible it will be added at some point in the future. Also, even if you5 bank is on this list, not all of its credit or debit cards may currently support Android Pay. It’s best to just contact your bank to get the most up-to-date information about its mobile payment service plans.
What retailers and apps support Android Pay?
Depending on where you live, there should be no shortage of stores, restaurants and other places that support Android Pay. In theory, it should work at any location with an NFC-based contactless payment terminal. Many stores show the official Android Pay logo, shown above, as a quick and easy way to indicate they accept payments from Google’s service. They include Best Buy, McDonalds, KFC, Macy’s, Crate and Barrel, Foot Locker, GameStop, JetBlue, Petco, Staples, Subway, and many more. In addition, many companies accept in-app purchases via Android Pay, including Lyft, OpenTable, Hotel Tonight, Instacart, and Etsy.
Android Pay, like its many competitors, still have a lot of room to grow in terms of attracting users and adding more banks and international markets. As more support is added, we ill update this feature with that information. In the meantime, do you use Android Pay on your phone? Let us know your thoughts on the service in the comments!