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Google Begins Rolling Out Android Pay

In a move to compete against Apple Pay, Google is revamping its mobile payment system. The search engine giant is starting to roll out Android Pay, a “simple and secure” way to pay for goods with your Android mobile operating system-powered phone.

In fact, consumers with Android Pay installed on their smartphones can pay for goods at over 1 million locations in the United States. Beyond making digital payments, Android Pay even stores gift cards, loyalty cards and special offers on your mobile device. In the days ahead, Google vowed to add more features, as well as banks and store locations, to make Android Pay even more useful.

“We know how important it is to keep your personal and financial information secure, so Android Pay is supported by industry standard tokenization,” Pali Bhat, director of product management at Android Pay, said in a blog post. “This means your real credit or debit card number isn’t sent with your payment.”

Security in Mind

How, then, will Google handle payments? Bhat explained that Android Pay will use a virtual account number, adding another security layer to the mix. Essentially, the minute you make a purchase you’ll get a payment confirmation that shows exactly where the transaction happened. That makes it easy to catch suspicious activity, Bhat said.

“And if your phone is ever lost or stolen, simply use Android Device Manager to instantly lock your device from anywhere, secure it with a new password, or even wipe it clean of your personal information,” Bhat added. There’s a long list of stores accepting Android Pay at launch, including GameStop, American Eagle Outfitters, Macy’s, Panera, Staples, Sports Authority, Rite-Aid, Subway, Whole Foods, BJ’s and Office Max.

Android Pay works with all near field communication (NFC)-enabled Android devices that run KitKat 4.4 or later versions regardless of the wireless carrier you choose. Android Pay will support credit and debit cards from the four major payment networks: American Express, Discover, MasterCard and Visa. Participating banks and credit unions at launch include Bank of America, Discover, PNC, USAA, and U.S. Bank. Bhat said Citi and Wells Fargo will be available in the next few days, Capital One is coming soon, and new banks will continue to be added.

Is 2.0 Better?

“If you’re an existing Google Wallet user, you’ll be able to access Android Pay through an update to your Wallet app,” Baht said. “For new users, Android Pay will be available for download on Google Play in the next few days, and will come preinstalled on new NFC-enabled Android phones from AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless.”

We caught up with Greg Sterling, vice president of strategy and insights at the Local Search Association, to get his thoughts on Google’s revamped mobile payments system. He told us Android Pay will benefit from the consumer education that Apple Pay has established.

“While relatively few consumers are paying for offline services or goods with mobile devices today there will be significant growth in mobile commerce in the coming 24 to 36 months,” Sterling said. “This 2.0 successor to Google Wallet will probably be much more successful, especially given the combined consumer visibility and awareness that Apple and Google together can generate.”

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