Paying for stuff with your actual credit or debit card is so passe now. There are a ton of methods now for using your phone to pay, and one of the most prominent ones is Android Pay. It’s been out in the U.S. since Sept. 2015, and a bunch of other countries got it before Canada, but it’s finally arrived in the great white north. Android Pay launched in Canada May 31st, 2017, so, LG was kind enough to send us a G6 to see what the experience is like. So, let’s talk about it, and answer some questions about Android Pay along the way.
Android Pay is one of a few modern methods for using your phone to pay for things at a physical store. iPhones have Apple Pay, Samsung phones have Samsung Pay, Windows Phones, if they’re still out there, have Microsoft Wallet, and LG actually has their own service, LG pay, which so far has only launched in South Korea. Not to mention individual financial institutions that have their own mobile apps for using tap to pay, like Scotiabank, RBC, and TD here in Canada. But because the majority of smartphones in the market are Android devices, Android Pay has the potential to be the standard method for tap-to-pay. So – who can use it?
In the US – pretty much everyone. At the time of filming this video, Android Pay supports 873 US banks, so chances are your bank supports Android Pay, but if you’re not sure, there’s a full list on the Android Pay site. In Canada, most of the major banks support it, but it’s a much smaller list, BMO, CIBC, and Scotiabank among them. Support for more banks is supposed to be coming, and I hope it is, there’s really no reason to delay, because we’re so nice, go give it to us please.
Now, using Android Pay is simple. The app either asks you to present your physical payment card to the camera so it can add it automatically, or you can put in your card numbers manually. If you don’t already have a secure unlock method enabled on your phone, like a passcode or fingerprint, it will ask you to set one up. Once your card is added, all you’ll have to do to pay is tap your phone to the terminal. Any terminal that supports tap to pay should work, although if the purchase is over 100 dollars, you’ll have to unlock your phone to pay.
Furthermore, any phone running Android KitKat 4.4 or later can use Android Pay, although if your phone is rooted, it will not, so you’ll have to revert to stock. That means, yes, the brand new LG G6, which launched in April, will work with Android Pay. We didn’t get to do a review on it, so this was kind of my excuse to test it out, since its launch was kind of overshadowed by the Samsung Galaxy S8.
And I’m glad I did, because since the slight mishap LG had with trying to add modularity to the G5, I haven’t really been paying attention to LG. But the G6, demanded that I do. Like the S8, it has a taller screen than the 16 by 9 displays that we’ve gotten used to, with an aspect ratio of 18 by 9. This gives you more display real estate, but it also means you’ll get black bars on the sides when watching 16 by 9 video. The dual cameras have been further refined from their iteration in the G5, with a huge zoom as it can switch between the wide angle and portrait lenses. And, the G6 is one of the first phones to come with support for Google Assistant built in, which was fun to play with since I’m still waiting for it to arrive on my Galaxy S6.
Of course, the G6 also has near-field communication, which is the technology used in Android Pay at physical terminals. Most phones have NFC, but make sure your phone does before you try to use Android Pay and look like an idiot in front of the cash clerk. They will judge you.
Now we answered the question of who can use Android Pay, but we didn’t answer – why should you use it? How is this any different from using a chip card or tapping an NFC enabled card? Well, first of all, you don’t have to insert your chip card and enter your PIN, and secondly, your phone is probably already in your hand or your pocket, so it’s more accessible. And, it’s more secure than tapping your card, since your phone is already authenticated with a passcode or fingerprint. So it’s just better, ok.
But will mobile payments become the new standard? Well in Canada at least, it depends on whether the rest of the country’s financial institutions get on board. RBC and TD are two of the biggest banks in the country, and they’ve been telling customers to use their own payment apps instead. This wasn’t a problem with Apple Pay, since iOS doesn’t give tap-to-pay permissions to third-party apps. RBC and TD have expressed an openness to joining Android Pay, so let’s hope they get on boards soon. Because when they and the rest of Canada’s banks get on board, we can pay for things easier and more securely, and prove to America that we’re cool too, even if they get all the cool stuff first.
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