Google officially unveiled Android Pay during its I/O conference held at San Francisco, USA. Android Pay is a new mobile payment system that is native to the Android mobile operating system, which means that any mobile device running on a compatible Android version enabled with Android Pay (Android 4.4 KitKat, and most likely the upcoming Android M as well as future versions) can be used to facilitate contactless payment transactions.
Android Pay not only makes it easier for users to complete payments via NFC (near field communications technology), this mobile payment system also allows vendors to integrate payments directly into their mobile apps for selling their wares and services by way of an Android Pay application program interface (API) instead of through a third party payment facilitator like PayPal or Venmo.
In making Android Pay possible, Google has inked partnership deals with various established brands. For example, three of the big four wireless carriers in the United States -- Verizon Wireless, AT&T, and T-Mobile -- will be pre-installing Android Pay on their mobile devices that run on Android 4.4 KitKat or newer. Also, Google revealed that a number of major retailers and brands have already pledged their support for Android Pay. These include Coca-Cola, Nike, McDonald's, Best Buy, and Macy's, just to name a few.
Android Pay can be utilized by consumers in around 700,000 stores across the US, and will be integrated into apps from Groupon, GrubHub, and Lyft, among many others. Google is already collaborating with Visa, Mastercard, Discover, and American Express, especially with regards to transactions linked to debit, credit, prepaid, and small business cards.
But what about Google's other mobile payment project, Google Wallet? Google says that Google Wallet will not be completely phased out. Although the tech giant noted that Google Wallet will likely be re-branded into a peer to peer mobile app that allows users to send money to their family, friends, or contacts.
Mobile payment systems in general have failed to gain much traction for several years. But when Apple introduced its own take on it with Apple Pay(officially launched in October of last year), consumer interest began to grow for modes of contactless payments. After Apple Pay attracted quite a number of initial users (within three days of its launch, more than 1 million users activated their credit cards on Apple Pay), other players in the mobile industry began working on their own mobile payment systems. Special mention goes to Samsung who announced Samsung Pay for its two newest flagship devices, the Galaxy S6 and the Galaxy S6 Edge.
And now with Android Pay, the competition just got a little tougher. For now, Apple Pay has a big head start. But considering that Android Pay is built into every Android device's operating system, it could catch up pretty soon.
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