This week we’re talking about . . . Android Pay
Spending money has never been so easy. Unfortunately.
Android Pay: you can register your card with the service and then use it instead of your contactless card when you go to pay in a shop or restaurant. Photograph: Bloomberg
Consumers here may have been looking jealously on as the United States and United Kingdom get ahead with mobile payments such as Apple Pay, but as of this week, Android Pay has come to Ireland.
So what’s the big deal? Read on...
What exactly is it?
Android Pay is a contactless digital wallet on your mobile phone. You can register your card with the service and then use it instead of your contactless card when you go to pay in a shop or restaurant. All your transactions are billed to your credit or debit card rather than your phone bill.
Who can get it?
Anyone with an Android phone running Android 4.4 and newer, that is NFC-enabled can install the app. Mastercard and Visa have both signed up. However, on the banks side of things the payments service is currently only supported by AIB and KBC, although others are sure to follow. So at the moment, if you have a Bank of Ireland Visa debit card, you won’t be able to use it with Android Pay.
How do I use it?
Signing up is simple. You download the app from the Play Store and register your card details with the app. You can register one or more cards, and one card will be set as the default payment. You’ll be prompted to add security to your phone – a fingerprint, PIN or password – and once Android Pay verifies and authorises the card with your bank, you’ll be ready to start tapping and paying.
When you want to use Android Pay in a shop, you tap it on the card reader in the same way that you would your plastic card; if the transaction is under €30, you only have to wake the screen on your phone, but for transactions over that amount you’ll need to unlock the handset.
You’ll also have to unlock your phone if you want to pay with anything other than the default card. Simply open the app, select your preferred card, and tap to pay.
Where can I use it?
Anywhere that uses contactless card payments should accept Android Pay – it all uses the same equipment.
Android Pay will also work for in-app payments. Delivery service Deliveroo has already signed up.
Is there a minimum spend?
This raises its head every now and again. The idea of contactless payments – regardless of whether they are mobile or card – is that they replace cash for small transactions, say your newspaper, milk or coffee purchase in the morning. It’s a couple of euro, but some – not all – retailers specify that you can only use cards for transactions over a certain amount, say €5 or €10.
This clearly goes against the reasoning for introducing contactless payments, and it’s actually wrong. Retailers aren’t allowed to impose a minimum spend for cards.
When they sign up to take card payments, they make an agreement with the card acquirer that they will honour all cards. That means they can’t say they will only honour cards for payments of a certain amount; if they do, they are breaking the terms and conditions laid down by the card acquirers.
If you do happen to come across a retailer trying to impose such a limit and refuses to lift it, find out who their card acquirer is. You can pass the information along with the store location to the Banking & Payments Federation Ireland, who will forward your complaint to the relevant card company.
It’s up to the card acquirer to take action with the retailer, but it’s in their interests for people to use cards more frequently.
As for Android Pay, it is a platform rather than a particular payment type like cash or cards; the payment itself comes off your debit or credit card so it’s the same as using the plastic card in store and should be treated as such.
Why should I use it?
It’s a convenient and secure way to pay. No more juggling your phone and wallet at the till, plus you get all your receipts logged in the Android Pay app so you can keep an eye on your spending. And if you forget your cards, you aren’t left without lunch for the day.
What about security?
Mobile payments are a relatively new thing for the Irish market, so it’s understandable that some people will be a little wary of the security side of things. But in terms of your card details, Android Pay is actually more secure than a plastic card. That’s because the app never actually transfers your card details to the retailer. Instead, they get a virtual number, a newly generated number that changes for each transaction.
For anything over €30, you’ll have to unlock your phone to pay, which is where that security feature we mentioned earlier comes in. It’s essentially the same as using your contactless card for under €30, and anything over that is protected by your password or fingerprint.
If you lose your phone, you’ll be able to use Android Device manager to locate it, lock it or remotely wipe it. Also, every time a new card is added to your account, you’ll get a notification from Google to let you know.
Malware is another thing to be wary of. Google says if it detects particular malware on the phone, it will disable Android Pay. And if you like to tinker with your phone’s software and have rooted it, Android pay won’t work either.
That’s before you even get to the risk management your bank has in place. Unusual transactions that get red-flagged will usually result in a phone call from your bank to make sure that they are actually you; Android Pay is no different.
And Apple Pay?
Still waiting. Sorry.