Today, Google’s Android Pay begins rolling out to U.S. customers via the Google Play store. After being unveiled in May, this is Google’s answer to mobile payments — i.e., paying with one’s phone — and is similar to Apple Pay and Samsung Pay, which launches Sept. 28. Not all Google Play users will be able to download the app immediately, but within one week, Google estimates that all U.S. users will have access.
Android Pay works with all NFC-enabled devices running KitKat 4.4+ on any mobile carrier, which is estimated to be about seven out of 10 Android phones in use. New Android phones from carriers AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile will come pre-loaded with the app.
Those who use Google Wallet, when they update, will notice that it automatically updates to Android Pay. Google Wallet will now become a new peer-to-peer payment app that needs to be downloaded.
Adoption of mobile payment is crucial for the next generation of mobile devices, so Google is eager for customers to become more familiar with using it. According to research from Gallup, only 13 percent of U.S. adults with a smartphone have a digital wallet on their device, and 76 percent of those have never used it or have almost never used it to make a purchase from a retailer in the past 30 days.
“Mobile payments is an important area for Google,” said the firm’s product management director Pali Bhat. “This is just the beginning for Android Pay.”
Android Pay supports credit and debit cards from American Express, Discover, MasterCard and Visa, and to incentivize usage, it also supports the use of retail loyalty cards. Android Pay was created with an open API to allow banks to integrate into their apps; currently, banks such as Bank of America, Capital One, Regions Bank and more work, with Citi and Wells Fargo in the next few days.
Android Pay will work with all retailers using contactless pay (those who have updated to have NFC capability), which is estimated to be more than one million U.S. locations. Examples include Sports Authority, Aéropostale, American Eagle Outfitters, Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s.
This number looks to increase with the mandate that urges U.S. merchants to update their terminals by October to an EMV processing device to fight fraud — referred to as the payment liability shift.
For now, Android Pay is not available on Android Wear smartwatches.