Saturday, July 16, 2016

Trying Android Pay for the first time

One tap away

Mobile payments is the next evolution when it comes to cashless payments and the market which initially started off with Google Wallet has now turned into a thriving industry. The big push for mobile payments in the recent years is because we are now at a point where mobile payments are actually a feasible option for just about anyone.
Mastercard shows off their new logo for the 21st century — "Most notably is that the "mastercard" font looks subtle and is now lowercase. The font itself is called FF Mark and as you can see in the renders below, the new font blends in with modern day devices." Continue reading.
Smartphones are everywhere and secure elements like an encrypted operating system alongside fingerprint sensors are now widely available on mobile devices. While not everyone is using their smartphones to complete their purchase, there is a need for the mobile payment market because it simplifies the buying experience. With the help of companies like Apple and Samsung, it won't be long before more banks and merchants begin accepting payments from your smartphone.

Right now, all major smartphones have some form of mobile payment service. iPhones have Apple Pay, Galaxy phones have Samsung Pay, Android phones have Android Pay and Windows 10 Mobile phones have Microsoft Wallet. For today, I will be focusing on Android Pay with a little case study on my experience of using it at McDonald's.
Google's Android Pay platform is an evolution of their existing Google Wallet platform and the app which is downloadable through the Google Play Store supports all devices running Android 4.4 KitKat or newer. And as expected, your phone will also need to have NFC in order for this to work (sorry OnePlus 2 users).

Additionally, one thing unique about Android Pay is that it doesn't require a fingerprint scanner in order for it to work. Both Samsung Pay and Apple Pay only supports devices with a built in fingerprint sensor. But you do need to have a screen lock implemented in order to use Android Pay. Another thing to know is that Android Pay will work without a data connection but when offline, you are limited to only a couple of transactions.

As for the actual payment, Android Pay uses something called Host Card Emulation that creates a virtual account number that is linked to your actual card. Each time you tap on a payment terminal, a token which includes your virtual account number will be used to make the payment. You can learn more about the nitty gritty stuff on how mobile payments actually work in this article by ArsTechnica here
McDonald's also support mobile payments through drive-thru
McDonald's is currently one of the only places that accept all kinds of mobile payment platforms including the aforementioned Microsoft Wallet. Any McDonald's outlet in the USA will support mobile payments services at the the order counters and apparently it also works when you're in drive-thru.

Configuring Android Pay

Before beginning, make sure you have these three things required for Android Pay to work.
  1. An Android phone that is running Android 4.4 KitKat or higher
  2. A credit or debit card that supports Android Pay (check out the full list of banks that Android Pay support here)
  3. Find a place that supports Android Pay (click here for a full list of supported merchants) 
The first thing you want to do is to launch the Android Pay app or download it if you don't already have it. From there, click the 'plus' button on the bottom right corner. You will then be prompted to key in your card details alongside a valid billing address. Once you're done with that, you will need to accept the terms of use.

On a side note, if you have previously added a debit/credit card to your Google account, you can easily add it to Android Pay with a few clicks. After that, you will need to verify your card with a verification code from your bank. Once verified, you are all set to make a purchase.

Testing it out


I have to say, It's been a long time since I have been this excited to buy McDonald's. The last time I was this excited about lining up to buy McDonald's was when I lined up to buy the nanoblocks from them. Then came my turn and I placed an order for a sandwich and since it was Friday, I took advantage of McDonald's in-app offer which entitled any purchase with free fries.

After scanning the barcode on the McDonald's app to redeem the free fries offer, it was time to make the payment. I placed my phone on the terminal and nothing happened. For a moment, I thought something was wrong but as it turns out the cashier was a newbie and the manager stepped into to tell me that for mobile payments, they will need to switch to a specific mode in order for the payment terminal to interact with my phone.

So, I tapped my phone on the payment terminal for the second time and I was prompted to use the use the screen lock and within the next second, the payment was completed. That's it. The process did feel a little anticlimactic because it all happened so fast. All I was left after the payment was a notification that a payment has been made.

I actually mentioned the McDonald's app for a reason, it serves to show that you don't actually need to be in the Android Pay app nor does your phone need to be actually awake in order to make a payment with Android Pay. Just make sure that NFC is turned on and you're all set.

What's next?

When compared to the number of places and banks that support Apple Pay, Android Pay doesn't look that impressive. But mobile payments are the future and given that Android phones are everywhere, it won't be long before more banks and merchants begin integrating into Android Pay.

Right now, I can't properly judge Android Pay because this is the first time that I am trying a mobile payment service and it's still not clear to me what it right and wrong. Maybe when I get the opportunity to try something other than Android Pay then I will revisit my judgement towards Android Pay

Moving forwards, I doubt that I will be using Android Pay as often as I would like to. It's not that Android Pay is bad, it's mainly because right now, there's only three places (Subway, McDonald's and Sprouts) that I would go to that support Android Pay. However, I might end up using Android Pay more often when it starts to support more Android apps. I can already see myself using it to pay for Lyft and Uber rides.

Ideally, I would like to see smaller restaurants and stores accept Android Pay but it'll probably take a while before that happens and it would be nice if more banks support Android Pay. My main bank card actually does not support Android Pay and I turned to my secondary card for use with Android Pay.

Also, there is a question of region support. At the time of publishing, Android Pay is only available in 4 countries (US, UK, Singapore and Australia). If you are lucky enough to live in one of the supported countries, do take advantage of the opportunity you have to use it and give it a try. Maybe, Android Pay is right for you?

Insider Talk

This week's article was supposed to be about the dbrand concrete skin which I received last week but due a problem, I am putting that article on the backburner for the time being.

But anyways, this is the kind of article I like to write. The type that gets me to learn something. I thought I knew about mobile payments but as it turns out, what I knew previously was just the tip of the iceberg. Hoping to try out Samsung Pay, Microsoft Pay and Apple Pay in the future, but I'll need to enlist some new devices in order for that to happen.

The image below is how the receipt from McDonald's look like for my Android Pay transaction. It's classified as 'cashless'