What is Android Pay? 7 Things You Need to Know

Yesterday, Google announced the first stage of rollout for its long-awaited new payments offering, Android Pay. We first heard about Android Pay back in May at Google I/O. Here’s what you need to know now about the new solution:

1. It’s a new mobile payment offering from Google.

Google Wallet debuted in 2011, but it was a fairly closed ecosystem, only allowing users to store credit cards in a separate application on their phones. While it was a step in the right direction, it didn’t provide the open access that developers needed to build on top of it and extend mobile payments functionality. Android Pay brings both in-app payments and tap-to-pay functionality to the game. Soon, it will also include offers that businesses can use to extend their reach with customers.

2. Some Android users can download it now. Others, in a few days.

For shoppers who’ve already been using Google Wallet to pay with their phones, Android Pay should already be available as an app upgrade. On the other hand, for those who haven’t yet ventured into the world of mobile Payments with Google, a Google Play download of Android Pay will be available in just a few days.

3. It’s an Open API.

Say what? For those not in the know, API stands for “application programming interface” and is a fancy way to say that any developer can build Android Pay into their applications. The ability to integrate Android Pay into your store’s mobile app to make payments even more seamless is a feature that Google says is coming soon. When it happens, there will likely be tons of mobile apps that leverage Android Pay to accept mobile payments. If your business has an app (or if you’re considering building one), you could make it simple for your customers to add their credit card information and simply tap to pay, either via the app or in-store.

4. It’s powered by NFC.

NFC, or near field communication, has been the driving technology behind other Google services like Wallet for quite some time. But the move to an open API that is also powered by NFC means they’re going whole-hog on the technology. When you consider that Apple Pay is also backed by NFC, it seems clear that this mobile payment technology has a serious edge over things like QR codes or SMS messages. This also means that you, as a business, should consider upgrading your point of sale to accept NFC—if you haven’t already.

5. It’s another reason for businesses to accept mobile payments.

Around the same time last year, Apple Pay was released. In the three days that followed, one million cards were synced to the tap-to-pay platform. Now, with the launch of IOS 9, Apple’s payment platform will also integrate with stores’ loyalty programs—a feature Android will soon take live as well, along with the ability to add in-store offers to the app. With two major mobile payments players getting a lot of industry attention, there’s never been a better time for businesses to make sure they’re accepting this payment method.

6. It’s secure.

With the rash of breaches we’ve been seeing in the media lately, restaurants and shops are clamoring to secure their transactions and protect their customers. While there is some misconception around the security of mobile payments, the fact is that NFC is a very secure technology. Android Pay specifically will rely on tokenization, a data security technology that essentially replaces sensitive data with non-sensitive “dummy” data to prevent theft or misuse. Android Pay will make it easy for stores and restaurants to accept mobile payments securely, and even to build secure mobile payments into their own apps.

7. It’s available at more than one million stores.

Bloomingdales, Walgreens and Staples are among the one million US stories ready for shoppers to check out with Android Pay—but don’t think the rollout stops there. Expect more banks and stores to accept it this fall.

With the rollout of Android Pay coming just a year after Apple Pay, now is a good time for you, as a business, to consider upgrading your payment terminal or point of sale to an NFC- and Android Pay-compatible platform like Genius, if you haven’t already.

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