With smartphones being ubiquitous, the conversation has changed from “what about them” to “what can they do for us”. We carry smartphones everywhere we go and use them everywhere. From dingy washrooms to mountain tops where getting a signal is hard.
Payments are going to be big and everyone wants a piece of the pie. Google. Apple. Samsung. The latter two have already gone ahead and unveiled their own mobile payments services that work in most stores in the United States (and Korea as well in the case of Samsung Pay) through their most recent premium smartphones and even smart watches. Google has for long had its own mobile payments service, Wallet, but it has relegated that to facilitating transfer of funds between close friends and family while its new take, Android Pay, is focused on handling payments as a service as well as providing a platform where Google’s partners and developers can tap in and take advantage as well.
After months of speculation, anticipation and even premature rollouts by partnering stores and merchants in America, Android Pay is now official. Unlike Google Wallet that worked with just about any card that users added, Google is renegotiationg terms with partners that include financial institutions like banks so that Android Pay operations are smooth. As such, it means that some cards that may have worked with Google Wallet may not immediately work on Android Pay until Google and the institutions offering those cards come into agreement. That is ongoing and most people won’t even notice a thing since the four major payment networks (Discover, American Express, MasterCard and Visa) are already supported. Wallet customers are already getting an update via the Google Play Store that will transfer functionality to the new Android Pay application which just hit the Play Store a few hours ago.
Like the name insinuates, Android Pay is meant for Android devices and any smartphone running on Android 4.4 KitKat or later and has a near-field communication (NFC) chip is good to go. Google Wallet, in comparison, worked across all platforms. Users simply add their payment card (debit or credit) details to the application and they are good to go. Tapping on a NFC terminal at an outlet results in payments being done. Just like Samsung Pay and Apple Pay work even though the former also supports the old MST terminals. Security is assured because tokenization is in place and merchants don’t access sensitive card data.
The Android Pay application is available for download and installation through the Play Store but since it is yet to become visible to many, APKMirror is not a bad place to turn to for the installation (.apk) file. It is not immediately known when Android Pay will be available in stores and other outlets outside the United States but the United Kingdom, Canada and several other markets should be in the loop soon.