Android Pay may launch as early as this week

There are rumblings in the field that Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android Pay may launch much sooner than later—as early as Wednesday of this week (Aug. 26). This is a month in advance of the Sept. 28 arrival of Samsung Pay, which is expected to be Android Pay's biggest competitor in the Android mobile payments space.

While unconfirmed by Google, a notice has been sent to employees at McDonald's restaurants advising them to expect Android Pay to go live Aug. 26, but in an apparent mistake, says Samsung Pay will launch Aug. 21, according to Android Police. Aug. 21 is the date the new Samsung devices Galaxy S6 edge+ and Galaxy Note 5 launch. A Samsung Pay beta trial with unspecified users will begin Aug. 25.

             Photo courtesy of Android Police

Google has kept the details of the upcoming Android Pay launch quiet, and speculation has surfaced before, but Android Police noted that this report has validity because McDonald's is a preferred partner and Google often uses Wednesdays for its releases. The online news source displayed a screen grab and a laminated "confidential" memo posted in McDonald's locations.

The memo said that the McDonald's stores should expect to receive mobile pay window decals in an Aug. 27 point-of-purchase kit to make customers aware of new payment options.

Even if this is a false alarm, the Android Pay launch is getting closer. A South Korean report by the Yonhap News Agency said LG will launch a new device in October with the next Android operating system, Marshmallow, and Android Pay preinstalled.

"We know retailers are ramping up for Android Pay—many already have Android Pay placards and stickers on their credit card terminals, and I regularly see them here in Los Angeles at stores like Trader Joe's and CVS," wrote David Ruddock of Android Police. "We've also had numerous readers tip us about similar signs and stickers in the past few weeks, so they're clearly becoming more and more common."

How credible is this information from McDonald's? Ruddock wrote that Google would likely inform McDonald's in advance of Android Pay's approximate launch window. "It's equally possible this date relies on old information and that the launch has since changed, we just don't know. It does seem reasonably likely, if nothing else, that Aug. 26 at some point was, and possibly still is, a good bet for Android Pay's approximate public launch. We'll just have to wait until Wednesday to see if this one holds up," he said.

As of mid-day Wednesday, there was no Android Pay app on Google Play, the primary Android app store.

Payments experts were also in the dark about Google's plans. "We cannot confirm the launch of Android Pay, but our systems will definitely be ready to accept it when it does," Dax Dasilva, founder and CEO of Lightspeed POS, told FierceRetailIT. "The prospect of the launch, however, has opened up some interesting conversations about the rapidly changing payment landscape and what these new payment options mean for both retailers and consumers."

"This should be a relatively smooth rollout for merchants," said Greg Burch, VP of mobility, business development and ISV relationships for Ingenico Group. "Every terminal system Ingenico Group has shipped in the U.S. for the past three years has been NFC-capable, and many merchants have already enabled NFC for Apple Pay and EMV. All the kinks, for payment, should be out of the system."

While Samsung Pay and Apple Pay only work on the companies' newest devices, Android Pay could work on any Android device with near field communication, according to Forbes. Samsung and Apple have established strong security systems, but it's not clear yet how Google will secure Android Pay.

Meanwhile, Samsung Pay has hit a speed bump on its road to a national launch next month. Verizon, the largest wireless carrier, has yet to endorse Samsung Pay and said that it is "evaluating" the service for now, The Verge reported. In the past, Verizon has blocked Google Wallet, but will strongly back Android Pay, possibly cutting off Samsung Pay.

Merchant Customer Exchange's CurrentC, a mobile payment system backed by several major retailers including Walmart, Target and Best Buy, will begin a pilot test in Columbus, Ohio, this month, but may postpone a rollout until next year.

For more:
-See this Android Police article
-See this Forbes article
-See this article from The Verge
-See this Yonhap News Agency article

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