MWC 2015: Google confirms Android Pay is in the works


Google thinks mobile payments will become a technology staple sooner than we realize and the company has just confirmed they’re working on their own platform, Android Pay. At the Mobile World Congress, Sundar Pichai, SVP of Product at Google, said the tech giant is aware mobile payments are a growing trend and they feel this type of service makes sense completely.

Android Pay will incorporate widely adopted measures for mobile payments such as tokenized card numbers for secure one-time transactions. The service will be usable offline, since card data is stored locally. Google decided to develop an API framework so developers and manufacturers can easily integrate Android Pay into their apps and systems.

The mobile payment service will use NFC and at some point biometric security measures like fingerprint scanning will also be supported. Google Wallet will remain available as a separate service, although it will rely on Android Pay’s framework.

Samsung made a similar announcement at MWC, a day earlier – the company will release their own payment service this summer (currently, there’s no ETA for Google’s Android Pay). Samsung Pay will support the newly launched Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge, as well as future devices manufactured by the company.

Pichai was asked if they plan on rivaling similar services, with Samsung’s offered as an example and he said the two companies were on ‘slightly different timelines’ and that ‘they would work closely to see how we can align’. His tactful answer doesn’t tell us much, but it does suggest Google might be open to partner up with Samsung and perhaps other companies that offer mobile payment services.

Last week, Google purchased Softcard’s patents, technologies and intellectual properties – at the time, everyone (myself included) assumed they’ll be used for their Google Wallet app, but as it can be seen now, we were very wrong.

With the success of Apple Pay, Google likely felt obligated to advance in the field of mobile payments from Google Wallet. Android Pay will be a platform, while Apple Pay is a service so it remains to be seen which company comes up with the most successful scenario.

In the grand scheme of things, both Android and iOS are preparing to offer secure and easy to use mobile payment solutions to their customers. Windows Phone – the third major mobile ecosystem, aka ‘the underdog’ continues to remain just that. Google’s deal with Softcard will result in the termination of Softcard apps, including the one for WP, leaving Microsoft’s mobile OS with no usable alternative. For now, Redmond hasn’t announced any strategy to fill this functionality gap and it looks like the company is one step behind, on the matter.

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