Tim Hortons was quick to take advantage of the host card emulation technology available in Google's new Android KitKat mobile operating system.

The North American coffee chain has upgraded its mobile payment application to support HCE, which enables any Android device with a Near Field Communication capability to be used for mobile payments without accessing the handset's secure element.

Tim Hortons did not respond to an inquiry prior to deadline. Various reports say the company will initially add Android HCE support next month. It is first deploying an app for BlackBerry handsets and plans one for Apple devices as well. The Apple version would use bar codes, according to reports.

Hortons reportedly will make the upgrade to its Quickpay service so customers can link their existing prepaid Tim Card to the TimmyMe mobile app in a limited number of Canadian stores. It plans an eventual rollout to 3,500 locations in Canada and 800 in the U.S.

The chain is also engaged in a bar code payment test in some parts of Canada and the U.S. in Maine, Michigan, New York and Ohio.

Tim HortonsÂ’ support of HCE marks one of the first for a technology that industry observers say could boost NFC payments and put pressure on initiatives that rely on access to the secure element. Google uses HCE with its own Google Wallet app.  

Tim Hortons competes against the likes of Starbucks, mostly in Canada. Starbucks reports that 11% of its payments in the U.S. and Canada are made with its mobile app.

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