Payments update: Android Pay, to launch or not to launch

The non-launch of Android Pay last week following well-publicized leaks raised some eyebrows, but also raised awareness and anticipation for the upcoming Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) product, which the company has now confirmed will be coming soon.

The launch is around the corner and will be accompanied by heavy consumer promotion, said Jack Connors, head of commerce partnerships at Google, Digital Transactions reported.

While avoiding a specific timetable like the Aug. 26 date mentioned in the leaked McDonald's materials, Connors said: "The rollout will happen very, very soon. I'd be very surprised if, say, by November [an Android phone] user doesn't know what Android Pay is." He spoke at the Mobile Payments Conference last week.

Google will approach data collection very differently with Android Pay than it did with Google Wallet, essentially collecting only information that a card is being used and the amount. "We have made a very dramatic change in our data policy from Google Wallet," he said. "We actually get very little data. We get tokens, we pass the tokens. We don't know card numbers. What data we do get is not part of any monetization strategy."

He did not reveal what the monetization strategy will be for Android Pay. Google Wallet will remain in the marketplace, but with limited uses, such as person-to-person payments.

A major competitive advantage for Android Pay upon launch is the compatibility with all Android phones supporting near field communication and running on the KitKat version of Android or above. This is important at a time when consumers are keeping old smartphones longer. Apple Pay and Samsung Pay are limited to those companies' latest devices. "A Samsung user will get to choose whether to use Android Pay or Samsung Pay. It keeps us honest. We hope we'll get our fair share," Connors said.

Meanwhile the other major mobile payment systems have also been reporting advances. For example, Samsung Pay signed up 80,000 credit cards in the first five days after its launch in South Korea, Android Headlines reported. A Samsung Pay beta test is underway in the U.S., and unlike its competitors, the service does not use near field communication.

Through a partnership with credit card reader PayAnywhere, Apple Pay is now being accepted in 300,000 U.S. locations, according to Tech Times. As part of the partnership, Apple will sell the PayAnywhere mobile reader in Apple stores beginning this month, priced at $39.95.

Merchant Customer Exchange, the developer of the retailer-backed CurrentC payment system, has entered into a strategic relationship with Inmar, which specializes in promotions management and processing. The deal will enable CurrentC users to find and redeem product-level digital promotions that are applied automatically at checkout.

"Continuously increasing the volume of savings and other offers will further establish CurrentC as a unique source for savings opportunities and drive accelerated consumer adoption," said Brian Mooney, CEO of MCX. "Inmar's technology allows us to provide users with product-specific offers, which means CurrentC will be both an easier way to pay and an easier way to save."

MCX is charting new ground in the mobile commerce space by working with Inmar to make manufacturer coupons available to CurrentC users, according to a company statement. Promotions are part of the mobile pay experience, but CurrentC will differentiate itself by providing access to offers from brands at several different retailers, all redeemable though the mobile app.

A number of consumer packaged goods companies have signed up with Inmar to provide MCX with offers in a variety of product categories. These will be available to participants in the CurrentC beta test in Columbus, Ohio, expected to begin soon.

For more:
-See this Digital Transactions article
-See this Android Headlines article
-See this Tech Times article
-See this MCX press release

Related stories:
Everybody's talking 'payments'
Customers want payment options; many retailers reluctant to invest
Retailers need security standards for NFC-based services
Only 2% of U.S. consumers use digital wallets
PayPal, Samsung, Google put mobile payments in the spotlight

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