Financial technology has been on the rise for the past year or so, bringing more ways to exchange money and manage personal banking on your smartphone.
Google’s latest experiment shows it’s always looking for the next edge in mobile banking and payments. To make mobile payments even more convenient than holding your smartphone next to the register, you don’t even have to take it out of your pocket anymore. This new initiative called Hands Free wants you to be able to pay for your purchases simply by telling the cashier “I’ll pay with Google.”
Sound familiar? That’s because Square did something similar back in 2011 with Card Case, except Google’s experiment works a bit differently. Pali Bhat, Google’s senior director of product management, said:
“We believe we have some very unique assets and technologies that we’re bringing to the table…one of the things is this combination of technologies we’re using to ensure that a user’s near the store, the other piece that’s as important is all the things we’re doing on the security side. Those are pieces of technology that we feel are very critical and defensible.”
For now, this initiative is taking place as a pilot program in the Southern San Francisco Bay area to collect user feedback. Additionally, it’s only available in a few stores like McDonalds and Papa Johns. You’ll need to download a separate app to use this feature. It’s unclear if it will be baked into Android Pay or Google Wallet in the future, or if there’s a separate app just as part of the pilot program. The app is available for Android 4.2+ and iOS.