Android Pay: What is it and how to use it

Just a couple of months ago Google rolled out Android Pay which is a simple and secure way to make payments in a store and within apps. It really did exist before, in Google Wallet, but adoption rates were low and Android Pay was released to make things easier. Even a so called “Android Guy” such as myself didn’t think contactless payments using my phone, was going to be much simpler or safer than a common credit card.

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As time rolls on, technology is advancing at a tremendous rate and so is identification theft. The big debacle at Target where up to 70 million customer’s information was compromised, got me truly believing we all are vulnerable to information theft when we swipe or apply for a credit card. So when Android Pay and the Nexus 6P came out, I decided to give it a shot.

Many of us have seen the contactless terminals within stores, and don’t think much of them, because we have been paying with cash and plastic for most of our lives. Something as simple as handing over cash is pretty darn hard to beat when it comes to simplicity. But as we rely more on plastic, getting cash at the ATM is sometimes a habit we no longer deem necessary and having coins sitting around is just wasteful and annoying.

Android Pay contactless terminal

According to a Pew research study, up to 64% of adults in the United States own smartphones. According to CreditCards.com, 72.1% of Americans owned a credit card in 2012, which means smartphones and credit cards are almost dead even in ownership. So if our phones are almost as prevalent as our credit cards, it makes sense Google wants to tap into making your life easier and safer with an all-in-one device. Your smartphone can already enable you to order food, hail a taxi, order movies, stay in touch with friends and family, among hundreds of other things. So why not help you make a payment in store and get rid of that plastic credit card which requires a signature and picture I.D.? Or why not eliminate those useless trips to the ATM to get the filthy cash?

Android Pay requires a smartphone running Android 4.4(Kit Kat) or higher with NFC and HCE support.

To see if Android Pay works on your phone (these steps might vary for some devices):

  1. On your Android phone, go to Settings.
  2. Touch More.
  3. Make sure “NFC” is listed and turned on.

If your phone meets these basic requirements, head over to the Google Play Store and download the Android Pay app. Once installed, open the app, select a Google account(if you have more than one), turn on NFC and simply add a credit or debit card. Android Pay is still in its early adoption phase, but most major credit cards and banks accept and verify Android Pay as a validated form of payment.

If you’re the type who does not use a lock screen or fingerprint to unlock your phone, you will be required to set that up in order to use Android Pay. It is an added layer of security. American Express, Discover Card, Visa, MasterCard, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Capital One and Citibank are among the many who do allow for Android Pay. Having a fingerprint reader on my Nexus 6P is much safer than a signature, as I rarely get asked for my I.D. when using a credit card these days.

Android Pay simply requires you to unlock your phone and you can make a payment by placing your smartphone near a contactless payment device(Near Field Communication). No signature or other form of security is necessary. With the Android Device Manager app you can lock down or erase your phone if you ever happen to lose it, or even worse yet, have it stolen. With a lost credit card, you need to call customer service, which is listed on the card itself, to notify them in the event of a loss.

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When you do use your smartphone to make a payment, the device does not transmit your actual credit or debit card number. Instead it transmits a virtual number generated by Google. It also makes it much easier to keeps track of your purchases.

If you are unfortunate enough to have your smartphone used at a merchant without permission, the banks and credit card companies treat Android Pay with the same rules as their plastic counterparts. So feel safe using it if you feel comfortable using credit or debit cards, but keep in mind nothing is 100% secure these days.

Physical credit card technology hasn’t changed much in the past few decades. Only until this year are companies in the U.S. adding chips for security, but Google updates its apps and security on a regular basis. So if Google sees a vulnerability, they will deploy resources to get that problem fixed as soon as possible.

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I encourage you to give it a try. Contactless payments are in the early stages of adoption, but they are here to stay. You might as well get started sooner rather than later especially considering it is easier and safer to use than a credit card.

If you would like to Android Pay, click this link.

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