Google has finally revealed plans to bring Android Pay to Europe “in the next few months,” with the Internet giant announcing the U.K. as its launchpad across the Atlantic.
Google launched its Apple Pay competitor last May, but it has hitherto been a U.S-only affair. Similar to Apple Pay, Google’s mobile-payment service lets users make purchases in physical retail stores by swiping their NFC-enabled phone against a contactless terminal at the point of sale. It can also be used to buy goods in third-party apps, saving you from having to re-enter your payments details in multiple apps. Though Google has previously teased an Australia launch for the first half of 2016, that has yet to come to fruition — so it’s not yet clear whether the U.K. or Oz will be Android Pay’s second market.
In many ways, Google will be playing catch up to Apple Pay, which has been available in the U.K. since last summer, though it may still beat Samsung Pay to market, as the latter is currently still only available in the U.S. and South Korea.
While an official launch date has yet to be announced, Google has revealed at least part of its initial roster of bank partners for launch — Bank of Scotland, First Direct, Halifax, HSBC, Lloyds Bank, M&S Bank, MBNA, and Nationwide Building Society — with “new banks being added all the time,” meaning there could be more than eight banks on board by the time this actually launches. Both MasterCard and Visa credit and debit cards will be supported.
Android Pay will work anywhere you normally use your contactless bank card, such as at coffee shops, supermarkets, and all the rest. It will also work on London’s transport network, including underground stations and buses. As for third-party app integrations, Google has revealed a handful for launch, including JD Sports, Deliveroo, Kickstarter, Zara, and YPlan, meaning that once you’ve set yourself up with Android Pay, you will no longer have to enter payment details into other apps that support it.
Android Pay has taken its time getting its service off the ground around the world, but the process of launching a payments service involves many local partnerships with financial institutions and retailers — this is why the likes of Google and Apple are taking a country-by-country approach. It’s not simply a case of flipping a switch on a global launch.
Indeed, Google confirmed with VentureBeat that the U.K. arrival won’t signal an immediate broader European launch, though that will likely be on the cards a little further down the road.