Canada's Interac gives Android Pay broad support

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Android Pay achieved a broad and rather sudden rollout in Canada this week when the nation’s domestic debit network, Interac, announced its support for the mobile payment service days after Google officially launched Android Pay in the country.

Google Inc. worked with Interac and Rambus Inc. to enable secure tokenized transactions via Android Pay in Canada, enabling consumers to use the service to pay at hundreds of thousands of contactless payments terminals in Canada, Rambus said in a Monday press release.

The move marks a major shift in Canadians’ access to mobile payments. Android dominates in Canada with around 60% share of handsets, but until now only Apple Pay was available to the 35% of consumers who have an iOS handset, according to Christie Christelis, president of Toronto-based Technology Strategies International.

Apple Pay went live last year in Canada with support from most of the large banks, though at first only American Express supported Apple Pay.

“The significance of Android Pay being launched and Interac coming on board is that it’s giving mobile payments capability to Android users in a similar way to what Apple Pay did for Apple users a while back, but mobile payments represent only a miniscule proportion of payments at the moment,” Christelis said.

Canada already has a large base of merchants supporting Near Field Communication, with many issuers offering contactless-enabled cards, he noted.

“Now all that has to happen (to see mobile payments adoption) is to give consumers a compelling reason to use it and at the same time make sure that the user experience is not dreadful,” Christelis said.

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