Less than a year after Apple Pay reached the UK, Android Pay has landed.
Since last July only a lucky few – those who own an Apple Watch or one of the recent raft of iPhones (including the SE) – could pay for goods and services via their phones. This was merely the green shoots of the mobile payment industry in the UK.
The barriers to entry for Android Pay are far lower. It can be used by anyone with a Google-powered smartphone that supports NFC and is running a recent version of Android – pretty much all handsets these days. Much like Apple Pay, it'll also work everywhere contactless cards are now accepted.
It means today's launch will have a vastly more wide-reaching impact on how Brits pay for goods than Apple Pay has had alone.
Whether it spells the end of purses and wallets will depend entirely on how quickly consumer attitudes towards payments can be turned, and how rapidly trust – and later reliance – can be built. Work must be done to garner mainstream adoption and Google knows it.
But there’s already a spanner in the works. Barclays has launched its own rival app, leaving it up to customers to decide if they trust the mobile payment technology of a high street bank or the software running their mobile.
If other brands follow Barclay’s suit there’s a real risk we’ll end up with a fragmented user experience that people find very hard to navigate, and a multitude of payment apps on individuals’ phones. The vast majority of big banks are already on board with mobile payments, from MBNA to HSBC and Lloyd’s, and this wide reaching support could be a huge incentive for consumers to buy into this digital institution.
Another point to note is that Android Pay has a far bigger battle to fight: to convince users it's as secure a payment method as Apple Pay, given the relative openness of its platform.
Security will be a concern for the mainstream user, not least the older generation. A survey we carried out revealed 57 per cent of all Britons don't feel comfortable paying for goods and services through their mobile phones, and 45 per cent are concerned about security and fraud.
It could take years – not months – to build trust in mobile payments and, while the openness of Android as a platform for developers to build upon and integrate might be a good thing for the user experience, just one data breach or financial hack could destroy all that trust and goodwill.
It'll be interesting to see if British consumers dive in head first or dip their toe in tentatively. Either way, it's likely Generation Z will be the first to ditch their 'trad' wallets.