Android Pay is in the market, and it joins a mix of mobile pay ventures such as Apple Pay and the pending Samsung Pay that will drive a revolution in how people engage retail and execute transactions.
The payment ventures represent only "the tip of the iceberg and the beginning stages" of how mobile and on-demand payments will evolve, said Richard Crone, a payments consultant. "It's part of the buying process for in-person and in-app payments," Crone said. "We are likely to see Buy Buttons in vehicles and in our kitchens in the future as Google anticipates what we might need."
Android Pay, which formally launched in the U.S. Sept. 10, won support from MasterCard, Visa, Discover and American Express. MasterCard and Visa quickly announced cardholders who own eligible Android devices can begin using the mobile payment system over the next few days. U.S. Bank and acquirer Elavon also issued a statement saying it was rolling out Android Pay to customers.
Google confirmed the launch in its Android blog Sept. 10, citing, in addition to U.S. Bank, support from Bank of America, Navy Federal Credit Union, PNC, Regions Bank, and USAA. Citi and Wells Fargo will be available in the next few days, and Capital One is expected to join soon, Google said.
"Mobile payments is an important area for Google, and this is just the beginning for Android Pay," Pali Bhat, director of product management for Google, said in an e-mailed statement.
"We have a great set of partners that have contributed to the launch of Android Pay, and we'll continue to work closely with the entire ecosystem to make paying with your Android phone simple, secure, and available everywhere," Bhat added.
Google had offered hints the past couple of weeks about Android Pay being available soon. Two weeks ago, the speculation hit fever pitch over a leaked McDonald's memo stating the payment method would be in place soon.
While Android Pay will initially operate in a familiar tap-and-go manner at terminals with Near Field Communication (NFC) readers, a key emphasis in the near future for Android Pay will be for consumers to use the payment method through merchant apps, Google executive Jack Connors said at a mobile payments conference in Chicago last week.
A "Buy with Android Pay" button will initiate in-app payments, while a user making an in-store purchase would first unlock the phone with a PIN, pattern or biometrics for tap-and-go payments or to move a non-payment credential, such as rewards points or a special offer, to the point of sale.
The launch of Android Pay indicates Google is into payments for the long haul now, but with the intent of establishing "an influential platform to extend their promotional model," Crone said. "It's really about putting an Android Pay Buy Button and putting payment into every purchasing experience."
Google Wallet will continue to operate as a separate application focused mostly on person-to-person payments, with the payment and loyalty cards normally stored in Google Wallet moving over to Android Pay.
Google lists about 20 retailers currently accepting Android Pay, including Coca-Cola, Jamba Juice, Macy's, Subway, Staples, Walgreens, Sports Authority and others.
Google gets the benefit of some mobile pay technology from Softcard Wallet, a company it acquired earlier this year. The major telecommunications companies involved in the Softcard venture – Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile — will now preload Android Pay onto their devices.
Consumers who receive automatic updates to their Android devices will notice an update from the Google Wallet app to Android Pay. Others can download the Android Pay app from the Google Play Store in a few days.
“We are thrilled to work with Google to deliver a safe and secure payment experience for our cardholders through Android Pay,” Ed McLaughlin, chief emerging payments officer for MasterCard, stated in a press release.
“As nearly every device has become – or is on its way to becoming – a shopping device, we’re delighted to be able to bring consumers even more choices in how, when and where they want to pay,” McLaughlin added.