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Android fans are finally catching up to their iPhone-loving friends when it comes to mobile payments. Android Pay, Google’s equivalent of Apple Pay, is rolling out with Wells Fargo and U.S.
Bank among the companies now offering secure contactless payments via the Android Pay app.
Here’s how it works: Android phone users who already have the Google Wallet app will notice that next time the app updates, it will automatically upgrade to become the Android Pay app. Those who don’t have the app already can download it for free from the Google Play store.
Once they have the Android Pay app, people will add their Wells Fargo or U.S. Bank card, or other eligible payment method to the app. Their payment information, including account number, expiration date, and other sensitive data, will be encrypted and securely stored. When they want to make a payment at a business that accepts contactless payments, folks will unlock their smartphone or other electronic device, hold it close enough to the payment terminal to enable a payment, and the transaction will be processed.
Payments made through Apple Pay will still be eligible for all MasterCard protections, including zero liability for fraud, extended warranties if applicable, and credit card rewards.
Will there be bigger rewards for Android Pay?
Some companies, like Discover Card, are already offering higher-value cash back rewards for customers who use Apple Pay. As Android Pay catches on, it remains to be seen whether banks will offer similar incentives to use Google’s contactless payment method.
Over a million stores are currently accepting Android Pay as a payment method, with more signing on all the time, according to Google product management director Pali Bhat. MasterCard’s Digital Enablement Express program give Google access to an onboarding platform that helps merchants quickly and easily begin offering Android Pay to their customers.
Recent data from the Federal Reserve showed that 22% of all mobile phone owners have made a payment via phone in the last year. That’s up from 17% in 2013 and 15% in 2012.
Debit cards and credit cards both work with Android Pay
It’s not only credit cards that work with Android Pay. Any card issued by Wells Fargo or U.S. Bank, and any payment card issued by the MasterCard payment network—including debit cards—can be added to Android Pay. Consumer credit cards, small business credit cards, and debit cards can all be used to make payments.
Android owners must be running the KitKat 4.4 operating system or higher to use Android Pay.