As the technical capability of mobile (smart) phones increases year on year, so their functionality increases exponentially, which makes them ever more essential to our daily lives.
One recent technical development that has the potential to revolutionise not only the mobile market, but also the payments industry, is the inclusion of NFC chips within a number of mobile phone models.
NFC (Near Field Communication) uses radio frequency identification (RFID) to transmit data from an electronic chip when it is within a given range of a receiver.
NFC chips are already widely used in a number of industries including automotive, retail and shipping & logistics. In the electronic payments field they provide the technical infrastructure that enables contactless payments.
Built into mobile phones, NFC chips enable the device to become a ‘mobile wallet’, piggybacking the established contactless infrastructure to enable payments to be made directly from the phone.
A number of businesses have sought to quickly establish mobile wallet dominance, including the main handset manufacturers (Apple, Huawei, Microsoft and Samsung), mobile telecom networks (EE, O2, Vodafone), and a number of start-ups (Lemon Wallet, Square Wallet, Zapp), but it is perhaps the owners of the most popular mobile operating system (Google) who are best placed to establish the world’s most popular mobile wallet with Android Pay.
Once the app is available on the handset, the payment cards that become the users ‘mobile wallet’ must be added. Much like Apple Pay, this can be as simple as taking a picture of the card and confirming a few details. Having applied the correct Android Pay-enabled cards to the app, the payment system is ready to use.
Users simply unlock their phone and hold it next to the payment terminal, as they would with a contactless credit card. There is no need to go into the app to make a payment, unless the user wishes to switch credit cards from their appointed default card.
Android Pay does not require fingerprint authentication (as Apple Pay does), because many Android handsets do not include a fingerprint reader. Nevertheless, users can enable additional security authentication (Pin code, pattern or password) if they have concerns regarding their security.
Android Pay is available on all NFC handsets running Android. This means there are already numerous compatible handsets available, and the popularity of the Android operating system with mobile manufacturers means many more are in development.
UK banks and credit card issuers were quick to enable Apple Pay use with their products. Given that Android handsets are more prevalent in the UK than Apple products, it is expected that most UK issuers will be offering it within weeks of launch.
Brands that have already committed to offering their customers Andriod Pay include:
Although Barclays is not included in the above list they have developed their own payment gateway for Android users, to compete with official Android pay app. Barclays’ Android payment system is incorporated in their popular mobile banking app.