Credit card issuer MBNA has confirmed it will be among the first to offer its customers the Android Pay mobile wallet in the U.K., which Google is expected to launch in the coming months.
The rival Apple Pay wallet entered the U.K. in July of 2015, and has since declared support from numerous financial institutions and card issuers. Banks offering Apple Pay include American Express, Bank of Scotland, First Direct, Halifax, HSBC, Lloyds, M&S Bank, MBNA, Nationwide Building Society, NatWest, Royal Bank of Scotland, Santander, Tesco Bank, TSB and Ulster Bank.
Android Pay has some catching up to do in that area, though it noted expected support for MasterCard and Visa credit and debit cards from issuers Bank of Scotland, First Direct, Halifax, HSBC, Lloyds Bank, M&S Bank, MBNA and Nationwide Building Society.
Google did not list Barclays as a supporter, echoing the trouble Apple had in gaining the company's participation in Apple pay.
Of all of the U.K. financial institutions, Barclays has solidified a reputation for pushing its own mobile payment agenda with various products and services rather than quickly expose another option to its customers.
Still, Barclays apparently began to soften its stance with Apple Pay when a Twitter message from a bank executive earlier this year to a customer indicated that the bank would enable Apple Pay acceptance around this time, in late March. Apple still does not list Barclays as a U.K. supporter on its website.
The U.K. market does not figure to be any different in terms of banks supporting mobile wallets. By supporting both Apple and Google wallets, banks that want their cards at the top of those mobile wallets cover the vast majority of smartphone handsets and users by partnering with both.
In addition, the U.K. market has reported increasing use of contactless payments, a trend that bodes well for smartphone-based mobile wallets.
In revealing its support of Android Pay, MBNA said the mobile wallet allows contactless payments at nearly 460,000 terminals in U.K. shops, with more locations being added daily. Android Pay also enables in-app payments, an area in which U.K.-based Judo Payments, a provider of in-app commerce payments, has offered support for Android Pay.
“Our customers have been active early adopters of contactless payment," MBNA CEO Ian O'Doherty said in a March 28 press release. "Again, they have a head start in accessing new payment technology as we join the first wave of card providers offering Android Pay in the U.K., giving our customers greater choice and convenience in how they pay."
Android Pay launched in the U.S. in September of 2015, nearly a year after Apple Pay made its debut in the country.