Google launched its smartphone payments system Android Pay in the UK on Wednesday, eight months after it first arrived in the US.
All Android phone owners will now be able to enjoy the same benefits as iPhone and Samsung users, which have had their own mobile payments systems in place for some months. Once Android Pay is set up on your phone, you'll be able to pay simply by tapping the device against any of the 460,000 contactless payment terminals across the UK.
Android Pay also makes it simpler to complete purchases on your phone, allowing you to breeze through online checkouts rather than having to input your card details yet again.
The system will support MasterCard and Visa debit and credit cards from the Bank of Scotland, First Direct, Halifax, HSBC, Lloyds Bank, M&S Bank, MBNA and Nationwide. Mark Barnett, president of MasterCard UK and Ireland, said the company was "thrilled" to have partnered with Google. "As more and more devices become connected and enabled for payments or shopping, we're committed to bringing consumers the choice and convenience of paying how, when and where they want," he said.
When Google announced the impending launch of Android Pay back in March, it didn't have three of the country's biggest banks -- Barclays, RBS and Natwest -- on board. They're still missing from its roster and it's not clear when customers of these banks will be able to use the service. Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
It might seem as though Google has been comparatively slow off the mark with the launch of Android Pay in Britain, with Apple Pay launching nearly a year ago. But then as the company pointed out in a blog post, the UK is "one of the most advanced contactless nations in the world." Most banks have by now issued customers with contactless cards, meaning that Brits are familiar with the payment system.
Being late to the party is also unlikely to impact the spread and popularity of Android Pay when compared to its rivals, according to Ernest Doku, telecoms expert at uSwitch. "Android Pay's low barrier to entry -- most smartphones are NFC-enabled these days -- means it'll have a more wide-reaching impact on how Brits pay for goods than Apple Pay has had alone," he said.
Google is also using special offers, which will be available to Android Pay customers every month "to brighten the last week before pay day," to encourage people to take advantage of the service. Companies such as Starbucks and Deliveroo will reward users with treats, with new offers becoming available every month.