Google Unveils Android Pay, Improvement Over Google Wallet

Google now offers Android Pay, a mobile phone payment service similar to Apple Pay. Android Pay works with Visa, American Express, Discover and MasterCard and can be used at more than one million retail locations in the U.S. Android Pay requires a phone that runs Android 4.4 KitKat or newer and has a Near Field Communication (NFC) chip, a feature of most Android phones in the last three years. Android Pay, available in the Google Play app store, will come preloaded in new Android phones.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Android Pay doesn’t require a fingerprint scanner on the phone, unlike Apple Pay. Although the user can unlock the device with a fingerprint, if the phone doesn’t have a scanner, a security passcode can be used. Android Pay only works at checkouts with a built-in NFC reader, which means that the service won’t be ubiquitous.

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Android Pay, similar to Apple Pay, doesn’t store or transmit credit card numbers but instead relies on “tokenization” by which the app generates a unique code, called a token, that is specific to each address. The token creates another, temporary token to complete the purchase, which both Google and Apple believe is more secure than a plastic credit card. WSJ reports that there have been no reported hacks of Apple Pay or Android Pay’s prior system, Google Wallet, which was based on the same technology.

Retailers who will accept Android Pay include Walgreens, Rite Aid, Subway, Whole Foods, Bloomingdales, Toys”R”Us and Sports Authority. According to WSJ, Android Pay will support in-app payments later this year.

Rather than close down Google Wallet, the company re-imagined it as a cash-swap app similar to Venmo, Square Cash, PayPal and others that allow users to send money back and forth. It is now available for both Android and iPhone.