Google recently announced a new mobile payments service, which will launch in the US today. Here’s what you need to know about Android Pay in the UK and why you should be excited.
At its I/O conference this June Google announced a series of exciting new innovations, including the latest version of its mobile operating system (Android Marshmallow), Google Photos, and the upcoming release of Android Pay. This last service is set to replace Google Wallet and will allow Android users to pay for a variety of products and services using just their NFC equipped phones. It’s obviously the search giant’s version of the already announced Apple Pay and Samsung Pay, the former of which is starting to see adoption in parts of the US. So far the details of when the service will actually be available are somewhat sketchy, but we will breakdown the most up to date information for you here and add any news as it appears.
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When will the UK get Android Pay?
The short answer to this is simply that we don’t know. At present all Google has officially said is that Android Pay will be coming in the next few months, with this seemingly applying to the US rather than the UK. At the Google I/O presentation all of the companies listed as partners – either banks, shops, or mobile phone carriers – were US-based, and there was no mention of a UK or European version. Google hasn’t exactly covered itself in glory in this area either, with its Google Wallet service, which originally launched in 2011, never making it to these golden shores.
Google announced on 10 September that Android Pay would begin rolling out in the US today, but in its blog post there was no mention of the service being available anywhere other than the US.
- See also: Why there is no Google Wallet UK release date.
This time around, though, things could be different. Mobile payments are seen as a potentially huge market by the main technology firms, and with Apple and Samsung already vying for position, it would seem foolish for Google to restrict its efforts to the US alone. Over at our sister-site Macworld, David Price revealed that Apple is setting up a dedicated Apple Pay team in the UK, which could see it be the first to make it into the wild. Samsung meanwhile has confirmed that its mobile payments service will be available in the US and Korea this summer, with plans for it to roll out in the UK, Europe, and China in due course. We have reached out to Google for a statement about Android Pay, but at the time of writing it is yet to confirm any kind of tangible date for a release in the UK.
- See also: Samsung Pay release date in the UK
Is political red-tape holding things up?
Another possible reason for the delay in mobile payment systems being released in the UK and Europe is the proposed amendments to the laws governing these practices. Last September it was reported that the European Union Council of Ministers was considering new legislation that would impose restrictions on the way mobile payments could function, with a particular emphasis on security. This Payment Services Directive in the EU proposal outlined the need for ‘strong customer authentication’ and that providers should require licences to operate within the EU. As with all legislation changes across such a varied territory, it can be assumed that discussions will take time, and could mean it is several months before we are able to pay for our coffee with our phones.
Why should we be excited about Android Pay?
While it isn’t exactly a huge hardship to have to produce our bank cards when we want to pay for a product, the convenience of using a smartphone is something that will quickly become apparent. At the Google I/O presentation the service was shown to be a simple case of placing your phone on a till point and unlocking it to pay. No numbers to enter, no apps to launch, just unlocking the handset. Adding new bank cards was also a case of tapping one option, although of course the issuing bank will need to support the service for it to be this simple in real life. Due to the way the Android Pay service is built – allowing for an API that can be coded into supported apps – the service can also access loyalty card information and include it in each transaction, thus further reducing the need to carry around a purse or wallet. There was even an experimental feature called Hands Free which allowed you to pay without taking your phone out of your pocket. It looked amazing, but is only in the early stages at the moment, with trials being conducted in selected areas of San Francisco.
For Android fans in the UK the sad reality is that we will most likely have to look on enviously as our American cousins purchase things on their phones with gay abandon. Hopefully though, this time the magic will make its way across the ocean, and maybe sooner than you think.