Google unveils Android Pay

Google's Dave Burke announces the new NFC payment system
ANDROID PAY: Google’s Dave Burke announces the new NFC payment system

Google is to introduce a new NFC mobile payments platform called Android Pay with the release of Android M later this year, vice president of engineering Dave Burke has revealed during the Google I/O 2015 keynote.

Android Pay logoAndroid Pay will be an open platform that adds tokenization and fingerprint verification to Google’s existing support for host card emulation (HCE) and NFC payments and will be made available globally.

Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover have all signed up to support the platform. In the US, it will be preloaded on NFC devices from AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile, courtesy of Google’s deal with the owners of Softcard in February 2015.

Device owners will be able to make payments at any of 700,000 contactless POS terminals in the US today. Offers and rewards will also be supported at “select retailers”.

Android Pay will also be available for in-app purchases, Burke said, and US retailer Target will be one of the first to support fingerprint-based Android Pay purchases in-app.

“With Android Pay, users can simply and safely use their Android phone to pay in stores wherever they see the Android Pay logo or the NFC logo,” he explained.

“Android Pay is focused on simplicity, security and choice. It’s simple, because all you have to do is unlock your phone as normal, place it in front of the NFC terminal to pay and there is no need to open any app, it’s that simple.

“It’s secure because when you add a card for use with Android Pay, a virtual account number is created which is then used to process your payment. Your actual card number is not shared with the store during the transaction.

“You have choice: We built Android Pay as an open platform so people would be able to choose the most convenient way to activate Android Pay, either through our app or through any supported banking app.

“And we’re working with leading financial institutions so you can securely use your existing debit and credit cards with Android Pay. We’re also working with major US mobile carriers, including AT&T, Verizon and T Mobile to ensure that whenever you buy a new phone, you can walk out the door ready to go.

“And of course, Android Pay works on any Android device with NFC. Android Pay will work at over 700,000 stores across the US which accept contactless payments including retailers such as Macy’s, Bloomingdales, McDonald’s and much more. Android Pay will also be available in-app from developers selling physical goods and services to help you speed through the checkout process, so leading developers like Lyft, GrubHub and Groupon and more will be offering Android Pay in their apps soon.

“So, we’re at the start of an exciting journey. We’re working closely with payment networks, banks and developers to bring mobile payments to Android users around the world with the roll out starting in parallel to launching M this year.”

“Now, Android Pay works on phones from KitKat 4 but with the M release, Android Pay gets even better because it turns out that Android device makers have been including fingerprint sensors on devices since 2011,” Burke continued. “In M, we’re taking the opportunity to standardise support for the fingerprint in Android so it works across a breadth of sensors and devices and exposes a standard API to developers.

“So what does this mean? Well, for one in M, you can use your fingerprint to authorize Android Pay transactions. The user simply touches the fingerprint sensor which unlocks the phone, the phone will then make a secure NFC exchange with the payment terminal and then the payment goes through and then you get the Android Pay notification of the transaction at the top; fast, simple.

“With the M release, you can also use your fingerprint to simply unlock your device or make Play store purchases. Most importantly, any app developer can make use of the new APIs and add fingerprint support to their own apps and we’ve been working with lots of our app partners on the new fingerprint APIs, the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.”

• Additional reporting by Rian Boden.

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