Google Ratchets up Intensity of Wallet Wars with Android Pay
June 1, 2015
Google on Thursday reenergized the wallet wars by introducing its new in-store and in-app mobile payment system Android Pay to compete directly with Apple Pay and begin to emerge from the disappointment of Google Wallet.
Like Apple Pay, Android Pay will enable consumers to make contactless NFC payments at the physical point of sale and in-app payments directly on a mobile device. Attendees who took the solution for a test drive at Google’s I/O developer event remarked on its simplicity. Android Pay also automatically looks for loyalty accounts associated with the merchant at which the transaction is taking place—a feature the company inherited when it acquired Softcard in February .
In fact, Jay Bhattacharya, CEO and co-founder of payment provider Zipmark, said the acquisition of Softcard enabled Google to respond to “Apple’s holistic market strategy” by providing the company with partnerships with the telcos and “the beginnings of a merchant network.”
Google said that merchant network will “soon” include 700,000 retail locations including McDonald’s, Staples, Walgreens, Chipotle, Sports Authority and others, as well as being integrated in apps from Open Table, Uber, Lyft, Priceline.com, NewEgg and others.
Many experts believe consumers will adopt Android Pay quickly since Android devices still dominate global sales and, according to Deborah Baxley, principal at Capgemini Financial Services, the solution “appears to be nearly as seamless as Apple Pay.”
One interesting dynamic will be how Samsung Pay, announced in March but not yet available to the public, could affect Android Pay adoption. Bhattacharya noted that Samsung’s Galaxy S5 represents about 65 percent of the market for Android devices. What Samsung decides to do about pre-loading Samsung Pay, Android Pay or both on new phones could affect adoption of both, opening the door for competitors.
“Without addressing this tension,” Bhattacharya said, “a split in the Android market could pave a smoother road for Apple Pay or even lead to three competing industry standards.”
Baxley said she isn’t sure how that will turn out, but if both are included on Samsung devices, that could be a win for users.
“It’s hard to say for sure but I would hope that you could have both on your phone, perhaps in an interoperable manner,” she said. “Then, if you wave your phone near an NFC POS device, the NFC wallet would appear and you can pay seamlessly with your PIN or fingerprint. If there is not an NFC POS device, you would have to locate and open your Samsung Pay app to make the magnetic secure transmission work. It’s a bit confusing but it would be nice to have the option to pay at nearly all POS locations.”