Now signing up 1.5 million users each week in the U.S., Android Pay, Google’s payment platform and mobile wallet for Android devices and apps, is coming to the UK, with dozens of partners including banks, physical retailers, apps and payment platforms in tow. Google is not giving an exact date for the launch except to note that it will be “in the next few months.” This is Google’s first market in Europe, and it looks like it’s the second outside of the U.S., after Google announced the launch of Android Pay in Australia in December (where it has yet to go live).
Meanwhile, over in the U.S., Google is adding more retailers and kicking off a new loyalty program for Android Pay users, in partnership with Plenti — a card-based rewards program from American Express. Users of Android Pay who sign up to Plenti can now pick up loyalty points and redeem rewards when they shop at participating retailers. Considering that one of the issues with mobile payments is that in many cases people cannot find enough of a reason to switch from using existing payment methods like physical cards, it’s integrations like this with loyalty programs that can potentially help make services more “sticky” and potentially more useful.
For context on the UK announcement, Apple Pay launched in the UK in July last year, and Samsung has said that its own-brand mobile wallet will be coming to the UK this year. People had been noticing hints of Android Pay’s imminent UK plans, but this is the first official confirmation from Google of the service.
In a sense, considering that Apple made an earlier move to turn on Apple Pay here, and individual banks like Barclays have put in legwork to build their own mobile wallets and contactless payment apps, Google is somewhat late — or at least took its time bringing Android Pay to this market.
One of the reasons may have been that it was trying to get a sufficient number of partners on board to enter with a splash. Today, that seems one of the main themes of its announcement.
Included are eight big banks — but not all of them, with some of the biggies left out including Barclays and TSB. (Notably, when Apple Pay launched people pointed out that it, too, was missing some major names — which then got in the months following.) Google’s Pali Bhat, a product management senior director at Android Pay, notes that more banks are still getting added.
As for retailers, the launch list includes 11 brands, including drugstore chain Boots, Costa Coffee, Waitrose and Starbucks, as well as the London transport network to let people use Android Pay on the Tube network, buses and city trains.
Android Pay late last year also started integrating with apps, so some of the biggies that were already working with Google on this are now extending support to the UK, along with some new additions. They include food delivery startup Deliveroo (the UK’s answer to Postmates), fast fashion chain Zara and JD Sports.
Similarly, there are a number of payment providers also working with Google, including Holland’s Adyen, Klarna, and Stripe. Last year, when Android Pay was made public, payment giants like Visa Europe weighed in with their support.
Google also announced that it would be adding more retailers and apps to Android Pay in the U.S. extending the service to “millions” of new locations. New additions include Best Buy, Peet’s Coffee & Tea, and Rubio’s in addition to Eat24, Eventbrite, and Ticketmaster, on top of the loyalty program with Plenti.