With Android Pay, Google Battles Apple for Our Cashless Future

Mobile payments are about to take off

Android Pay

Android Pay

Google

Google unveiled its new mobile payments platform—Android Pay—at the company's annual developer conference Google I/O on Thursday. The new payments software allows anyone with an Android smartphone to upload their credit card information from Visa, Mastercard, Discover or American Express into their smartphones. Users will be able to pay for items at select stores by tapping their phone against a special pad at during checkout.

Android Pay is launching with support from more than 700,000 retailers including Subway, McDonald’s, Macy’s, Game Stop, and Chipotle. The payment system will be able to integrate with any fingerprint scanners that are built into Android smartphones. The fingerprint scanner will be used to authenticate any transactions during the checkout process.

The new payments platform works similarly to Apple Pay, which Apple introduced last year with iOS 8.1. It uses near-field communication (NFC) technology to send information from the device to the retailer. Similar to Apple Pay, Android Pay will also create a single-use token for each transaction. By generating a single-use token with each payment, Android Pay will be able to complete transactions without having to share your account information with the store. That means that your credit card information never actually leaves the smartphone. In the event that your phone is stolen, you'll be able to use Android Device Manager to remotely wipe your device of all sensitive information—including your Android Pay account info.

Mobile payments are an increasingly lucrative market for large technology companies. Earlier this year at Mobile World Congress (MWC), Samsung unveiled its payment option called Samsung Pay. The system worked in a similar fashion to Apple and Google’s solution. In essence, it used the smartphones NFC chip to communicate with reatilers. Apple used the same technology for its payment solution in the Apple Watch.

Android Pay is Google's second attempt to compete in the increasingly crowded mobile payments market. The company launched Google Wallet back in 2011, and although it had most of the same capabilities, it never caught on. It's still unclear what will happen to Google Wallet now that Android Pay exists.