Android Pay Coming Soon to the United Kingdom

Android Pay
Bloomberg/Getty Images

April 05, 2016

Last week, Google officially announced that it would introduce Android Pay, its contactless payment service, to users in Britain within the next few months. This mobile payment service will be backed by most of the major banking institutions in that country and will support Visa and MasterCard credit and debit cards. Needless to say, this move targets the company’s prime rivals, Apple Pay and Samsung Pay, and will eventually create more competition in the market.

Says Jon Squire, CEO, and founder of CardFree, “The current three kings of ‘Pay’ are going to continue to both confuse and excite every significant mobile payment market, which will drive early adopters that are loyal to their device/OS. For one to stand out, it is going to need to go beyond payments and provide true utility via loyalty, rewards, offers, and order 

How the UK will Benefit from NFC

Android Pay, which is presently available only to users in the United States of America, enables customers to use their smartphones on an NFC terminal or reader to purchase goods in-store. Once this platform is available to users in the UK, smartphones running Android 4.4 or higher OS versions can access this feature at the most popular retail outlets, as well as on the London Tube. The UK had been planning to permit mobile payment at most transportation hubs – this would make it most convenient for consumers; especially regular travelers.

Apart from the above, customers can also make in-app purchases via Android Pay. Those using the service would not need to repeatedly enter their shipping and payment information during each transaction. This would undoubtedly encourage more impulsive purchases.

Android Pay, which is gaining immense popularity in the US, will be collaborating with several major payment processors and technology providers, both in the US and the UK, over the next few months. The idea is to be able to provide as many mobile payment outlets and NFC terminals, in as many locations as possible. As of now, financial establishments in the UK, supporting this initiative, include big players such as Bank of Scotland, HSBC and First Direct.

Chris Kangas, European Head of contactless and mobile device payments, has this to say: “We are aiming to capitalize on the contactless infrastructure that was laid out over the last 10 years in the UK for the benefit of mobile payments. Like any new technology, it will take some time to grab hold but we anticipate this will become a dominant way to pay in the future.”

He goes on to state, “MasterCard is keen to advance payment technology to provide more consumer choice, and along with that, more convenience and enhanced security. Android Pay provides an option for those who don’t have an iOS device yet would like the convenience of paying with their phone in shops and when riding the Tube.”

Once this service is open to users in the UK, other credit card companies too are bound to come forward to involve themselves more actively in mobile commerce; each trying to engage users by offering rewards, loyalty points, and coupons.

Creating Competition in the Market

Google’s move to bring its mobile payment platform to the UK will definitely shake up Samsung, which is poised to introduce its own Samsung Pay in the coming months as well. This will further tighten the market; eventually benefiting users at large.

Companies seeking to entice the maximum number of users will then have to offer much more than NFC payments. They will have to think creatively and offer loyalty-based and other value-added offers.

Android Pay is already working on this aspect, by tying up with the Plenti program, which enables registered users to earn reward points and redeem prizes at participating merchant outlets.

Android Pay UK: Release Date, Supporting Banks

While there is no official announcement from Google regarding the release date of Android Pay in the UK, sources aver that it could happen very soon, in the next few months.

In its ​official blog, Google has provided details of all the banks, financial institutions, and retail outlets in the UK as well, which are currently offering support for its payment platform.

Besides, Google now offers an Android Pay API to developers to enable them to create in-store and in-app payment platforms.