After a frustratingly long wait Android Pay is now properly established in the UK so you can make contactless payments using your mobile phone instead of your bank card.
Here’s everything you need to know about using Android Pay, where it’s available on the high street, and the recent link-up with PayPal.
Android Pay uses the same Near Field Communication (NFC) tech as Apple Pay and Samsung Pay.
NFC is a wireless data transfer that means you can connect your phone or watch to a nearby device without the need for an internet connection.
Android Pay has travelled a long road to get to us. Back in June 2015 Google announced they would be rolling out their new service to replace Google Wallet, using NFC-equipped phones to pay for a variety of products and services. But it didn’t happen.
Then later in the year Google said they were rolling-out the service in the USA but not elsewhere.
In early 2016 it was rumoured the service would hit the UK by March 2017.
But after an initial no-show, it appeared in the coffeeshop chain Pret, and within 24 hours finally became available to all UK users.
With over one billion Android customers Google is hoping it can tap into the huge contactless payments market. And with Apple Pay already established Google is looking to take on Samsung Pay as their number one rival.
How do I use Android Pay?
It’s dead simple to set-up.
Firstly, download the Android Pay app from Google Play Store, then connect your credit or debit card to the Android Pay app.
That’s about it. Now you’re ready to use Android Pay.
How does Android Pay work?
There’s no need to enter a special number and no apps to use. The Android Pay service can access loyalty card schemes and reward points and factor them into purchases.
Android Pay requires no passwords or PIN numbers which makes it much more user-friendly than Apple Pay.
Does my phone support Android Pay?
Anyone with an Android device running KitKat 4.4 or above or Android Wear 2.0 can make payments if their phone or watch has NFC.
Not every smartphone can use Android Pay, but there’s a useful list at NFCWorld.com.
Samsung supports NFC from the Galaxy II upwards, on the iPhone you’ll need a 6 or higher, Google’s Pixel and Pixel XL have NFC, as do some Motorola, LG, Nokia and Windows phones.
In terms of Chinese Androids Huawei’s Honor 8 and Xiomi’s Mi5s – listed in our recent top five – both support NFC so should be able to use Android Pay.
Where can I use it?
Android Pay is now accepted at most of the UK’s major banks and shops.
The main thing you need to know is that you can use Android Pay anywhere that contactless payments are accepted – so pretty much anywhere. This includes the likes of major chains like Boots, Co-op and McDonalds, all the way down to corner shops like Costcutter.
What do I need to do before using Android Pay?
With Android Pay you not only need your card company to be compatible with the service but also your bank.
So, it is in Google’s interest to include as many banks as they can, large or small, to extend the service. Just last month they added 71 new financial institutions, albeit small banks primarily in the US.
In terms of banks you can link to the app, those offering Android Pay are: Royal Bank of Scotland, FirstDirect, Halifax, Lloyds Bank, M&S Bank, MBNA, Nationwide Building Society, NatWest and Santander, among others. Glaringly Barclays still does not offer the option to use Android Pay.
What’s the latest news?
A recent update in the US saw Android Pay incorporated into existing banking apps, which means customers can combine Android Pay and their banking app to manage their payments. It is hoped this will cross the pond and be available in the UK by the end of 2017.
Paypal has also updated its app so it’s compatible with Android Pay.
Android Pay will also work with apps such as Kickstarter, Deliveroo and Uber, as well as London Transport, including the Tube and the buses.
Using Android Pay with PayPal
When you link your PayPal account to Android Pay it creates a Discover Card to use in Google’s mobile payment system. While this will depend on whether certain terminals accept Discover Cards, PayPal will not be limited in its top-up amount.
PayPal will require you put in a top-up amount but, PayPal will automatically withdraw from your bank account to make up any differences between your top-up amount and how much something costs.
With the PayPal link-up you are not limited to whatever you choose as your top-up amount.
How secure is Android Pay?
As with any new technologies today, the biggest worry is security. Android Pay is as secure as most apps downloaded from Google Store. Which, at times sadly, can be not particularly secure.
While Google updates patches for any security flaws not all devices from different manufacturers receive these patches at the same time. This can make some devices vulnerable to attacks.
Anyone using an Android device should follow the basic laws of security and always make sure their phone has the latest anti-virus software installed.
However, Google themselves say that each transaction creates a unique virtual account number and your name and full card details are never shown in the app, never stored on your phone, and never shared with the seller.
Beacuse it does not store any card data on the device itself, even if your phone becomes infected with malware your bank details should be safe.
What does the future hold?
Google has announced the launch of Android Pay Day, a service that offers exclusive codes and deals to customers. These will be available on the last Tuesday of every month.
The first Pay Day kicked off with an exclusive deal from Deliveroo and Starbucks, while across the pond in the US, Google has been giving away Chromecast devices for those who use Android Pay. If the trends remain the same we should expect this to be available in the UK by the start of 2018.