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Android Pay UK release date: Officially launched ahead of Google I/O but users have problems

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Google mobile payments has been live in the US for a while, and it will hit the UK this week, with an announcement expected at Google I/O. Here’s what you need to know about Android Pay in the UK, and which banks and shops are supported.

Google mobile payments has been live in the US for a while, and it will hit the UK this week, with an announcement expected at Google I/O. Here’s what you need to know about Android Pay in the UK, and which banks and shops are supported.

Update 17 May: Google has supposedly launched Android Pay in the UK, going by the Tweet sent out via the Android account. However, users are so far unable to download the app from the Google Play store with a message stating ‘This item is not available in your country’. This is the situation at the time of writing so keep trying as things could change any minute.

It seems Google jumped the gun a bit even though it’s working for some users (at least the download). The following tweet was sent out after plenty of backlash.

Google I/O kicks off today (18 May) at 6pm in the UK. It’s here that we are most likely to get an announcement from Google regarding Android Pay in the UK.

At its I/O conference in June 2015 Google announced a series of exciting new innovations, including the latest version of its mobile operating system (Android Marshmallow),Google Photos, and Android Pay. The service replaced Google Wallet and allows Android users to pay for a variety of products and services using just their NFC equipped phones.

It’s obviously the search giant’s version of the already announced Apple Pay and Samsung Pay, the former of which has been avaialble in the UK in July 2015. So far the details of when Android Pay will finally be available in the UK are somewhat sketchy, but we will breakdown the most up to date information for you here and add any news as it appears.

Android Pay UK release date: When will the UK get Android Pay?

Google announced on 10 September 2015 that Android Pay would begin rolling out in the US the same day, but in its blog post there was no mention of the service being available anywhere other than the US.

It appears an Android Pay UK release date is very close as The Telegraph reports that the service will reach British shores in March 2016.  “Google will announce that Android Pay will be available in Britain from the end of next month, industry sources said,” claimed the report in February.

We now know that information is a bit off as Google has confirmed, via a blog post, that Android Pay will be available in the UK ‘in the next few months’.

Update 16 May: Now the Telegraph has another note on Android Pay. It appears coffee shop, Pret, put out signs on its card payment machines with the message “We now accept Android Pay…” in one of its London stores.

Since Android Pay hasn’t officially launched this seems to be a mistake but it suggests that Android Pay will launch in the UK any day now. With Google I/O happening this week we could hear from Google on the matter to settle it finally.

Android Pay UK Pret

“Android smartphones will become even more useful with the launch of Android Pay. We’re bringing together payment networks, banks and retailers to help you pay simply and securely,” said Google.

Mobile payments are seen as a potentially huge market by the main technology firms, and with Apple Pay already rolled out in the UK the battle is on between Google and Samsung for a rival. As is stands, it looks like Android Pay will launch before Samsung Pay in the UK.

Android Pay UK supported banks and cards

Google has now provided details on which cards and banks in the UK will support Android Pay.

In the same blog post as mentioned above, Google said: “Android Pay will support MasterCard and Visa credit and debit cards from many of the UK’s major financial institutions — including Bank of Scotland, First Direct, Halifax, HSBC, Lloyds Bank, M&S Bank, MBNA and Nationwide Building Society — with new banks being added all the time.”

Android Pay UK banks

Those who have followed the release of Apple Pay will know that Barclays was one of the last banks to join, so it comes as little surprise to learn it will be snubbing Android Pay. The bank is going to focus on its own mobile payments service, and a new version of its mobile app will roll out with ‘Contactless Mobile’ in June.

Customers will be notified when the service is available, and will then be able to make mobile payments of up to £30 by tapping their phone on the scanner at supported outlets. Contactless Mobile will also allow payments up to £100, but customers will need to tap their phone on the terminal, enter a PIN, then tap their phone again.

Android Pay UK shops: Where can I use Android Pay in the UK?

In the UK you’ll be able to use Android Pay anywhere contactless payments are accepted, including Boots, Costa, KFC, Starbucks Waitrose and other retailers.

“Android Pay will help you speed through checkout within your favorite apps including JD Sports, Deliveroo, YPlan, and more. Say goodbye to entering your payment or address details every time you want to shop,” added Google.

You can also use Android Pay to travel around London on the Tube, buses and trains with Transport for London (TfL).

Android Pay UK shops

Google also has an Android Pay API which developers can use to enable payments in stores and apps so you can look out for the option.

Android Pay requirements: Does my phone support Android Pay?

If you’re wondering whether you can use Android Pay or not, there’s a couple of things you need to check.

Firstly, you’ll need a smartphone running Android 4.4 or above and you’ll also need an NFC chip (near field communications). This covers a large amount of Android phones but even recent devices like the OnePlus 2 don’t have an NFC chip.

It’s also worth pointing out that you don’t need a fingerprint scanner on your phone in order to use Android Pay. While it’s a more secure method of authorisation, you can still use Android Pay without one.

Why should we be excited about Android Pay?

While it isn’t exactly a huge hardship to have to produce our bank cards when we want to pay for a product, the convenience of using a smartphone is something that will quickly become apparent. At the Google I/O presentation the service was shown to be a simple case of placing your phone on a till point and unlocking it to pay.

No numbers to enter, no apps to launch, just unlocking the handset. Adding new bank cards was also a case of tapping one option, although of course the issuing bank will need to support the service for it to be this simple in real life. Due to the way the Android Pay service is built – allowing for an API that can be coded into supported apps – the service can also access loyalty card information and include it in each transaction, thus further reducing the need to carry around a purse or wallet.

 


Martin, C. (2016) Android pay. Available at: http://www.pcadvisor.co.uk/feature/google-android/android-pay-uk-release-date-banks-cards-support-launch-barclays-pret-io-launched-3614541/ (Accessed: 18 May 2016).

 

 

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