Android Pay, Google’s forthcoming payments platform and rival to Apple Pay, will soon launch, allowing consumers to pay using their Android smartphones at point-of-sale as well as make purchases within mobile applications. However, according to sources familiar with Google’s plans, Android Pay is not arriving today – or any time this week, in fact – despite a handful of reports and leaks from participating merchants which seemed to indicate otherwise.
As you may recall, Android Police recently uncovered a notice to employees at Android Pay partner McDonald’s which indicated that the restaurant’s customers could begin using Android Pay on Wednesday, August 26. A second McDonald’s memo was also posted to Reddit, again referencing the August 26 launch date.
Even though there were multiple sources for the McDonald’s leak, some questioned the accuracy of those reports, given that both notices also incorrectly listed the launch date for Samsung Pay as being August 21 – when Samsung itself has said its own payments platform will launch in September in the U.S. (It did, technically, launch August 20 but only in Korea.)
However, the launch time frame began to look more legitimate when Subway – another Android Pay partner – began emailing its customers to let them know that Android Pay was live. According to Consumerist, which got a copy of the Subway FreshBuzz email newsletter from a reader, the fast food chain yesterday proclaimed that “Android Pay Is Now At Subway!” The email even linked to the Android Pay website, even though that site continues to say the platform is “coming soon.” (Google is not commenting on the leaks.)
Clearly, Android Pay’s launch is imminent, as retailers have been posting placards, signs and placing stickers on their payment terminals for some time. But they may have jumped the gun on the “official” go-live date for Android Pay.
The new payments platform will effectively pick up where Google Wallet left off by allowing consumers to tap and pay using their smartphone at local stores, while also offering a developer API for digital payments. (Confusingly, Google didn’t close down Google Wallet following the news of Android Pay. Google Wallet instead was re-introduced as a peer-to-peer payments app like Venmo or Square Cash.)
Similar to Apple Pay, Android Pay’s contactless payment solution utilizes NFC and tokenization technologies, but only requires users unlock their phone to authorize a transaction – that is, it doesn’t require biometric input, though that’s supported on newer devices that have a fingerprint reader. It will work on Android devices that run KitKat and higher, which also have an NFC chip. And unlike Google’s previous attempts at mobile payments, this time it’s working with the mobile carriers, including AT&T, Verizon (disclosure: TechCrunch parent AOL is owned by Verizon), and T-Mobile.
While not yet live, the Android Pay website offers a host of information about how and where the technology will work when it launches. Consumers will be able to use their credit or debit cards including Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express, at a wide variety of merchants, like Best Buy, Gamestop, McDonald’s, Macy’s, Whole Foods, and more. Apps such as Groupon, GrubHub, OpenTable, Lyft, Uber and many more will also support Android Pay, the site indicates.
Update: Google hints that Android Pay is coming soon with a new tweet that simply says to stay tuned.
— Android (@Android) August 26, 2015
Image credits: Google; Android Police; Reddit