Move over, Apple - Google's got this.
It’s always been fairly strange that both major mobile payment services, Android Pay (previously Google Wallet) and Apple Pay didn’t include Australia as part of their initial launch regions. Not only do both companies consider Australia as one of their Tier One regions (almost every new major flagship mobile product has launched here as part of the initial first group), but Australia also has one of the largest national rollouts of NFC-based payment systems in the world, right up there with the UK and parts of Western Europe.
But things, they are a changing. Following on from Apple’s fairly weak announcement that Apply Pay would be available in Australia through American Express only, Google has well and truly trumped the company with a full, multi bank launch of Android Pay in the first half of next year. Not only will a host of banks (Including ANZ, Westpac, St George and Bendigo Bank) be supported straight off the bat, there will be support for all VISA and Mastercard holders with both debit and credit cards to be covered. EFTPOS support is also on the way.
Additionally, Google has released its API to Australian merchants to prepare their online stores to allow streamlined checkout options, which will be welcome to many who are a little tired of only having PayPal as an option. Big retailers like Catch of the Day, Kogan, The Iconic and OZsale will be ready to go at launch. Google has also announced partnerships with popular payment gateways like e-Eway, Striple, Loke and FirstData – many of which are used by government and financial services organisations to handle payments. This is a big deal – in many cases these services only allow direct credit card options, opening up the ability to securely keep that card in your wallet in more places online.
There are a few caveats however. Notably, Commonwealth Bank, NAB, Citibank, Bankwest and other major banks that have heavily invested in their own mobile payment systems aren’t going to be part of the launch. AMEX is also missing, pointing at an exclusive agreement with Apple Pay. The initial announcement is also a little bit vague on support – Will *ALL* Visa/MC cardholders have access, or just the ones with accounts with supported banks? Will the supported banks offer payments directly from savings or cheque accounts? Are all phones with NFC supported? Is Marshmallow required?
We will keep an eye on announcements out of the big G going forward for more details, but this is certainly big news for those Android users looking to leave their wallets at home.