Android Pay launched in the UK

Google launched Android Pay in the UK last week, marking what could turn out to be the tipping point for mobile payments.

The “tap and go” mobile payment system rivals Apple Pay, which has been in use in the UK since July last year.

Just as with Apple Pay, most retailers will only allow mobile payments up to the value of £30. A software upgrade to payment terminals enables higher amounts, but the user will need to authorise the transaction by unlocking their phone.

Announcing the launch in a blog post, Google’s Pali Bhat described the UK as “one of the most advanced contactless nations in the world”.

Android Pay can be used everywhere contactless payments are accepted, including high street stores such as Boots, Starbucks and Waitrose, as well as the London transport system where it can be used to pay for Tube, bus and train fares.

“Just tap with your phone as you would with your card. It’s that simple,” Bhat explained.

Businesses that already have contactless terminals won’t need to do anything else to be able to accept Android Pay in store.

Android Pay is also a payment option in selected retail apps including JD Sports, Deliveroo and YPlan.

To start using the payment service, users need to download the Android Pay app via Google Play and have an eligible MasterCard or Visa credit or debit card from one of the system’s supported banks, which include Bank of Scotland, First Direct, Halifax, HSBC, Lloyds Bank, M&S Bank, MBNA and Nationwide Building Society.

All transactions are encrypted for security, with specially generated digital tokens used instead of the actual card details when a purchase is made.

“Security is at the centre of Android Pay,” Bhat said. “With industry standard tokenisation, Android Pay doesn’t send merchants your real card number when you purchase. Android Pay also makes it convenient to keep track of payments and to lock your device if it becomes lost or stolen.”

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