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Google taking contactless mobile payments a step further?

March 3, 2016

One of the big issues in the tech world these days is the fact that mobile payment platforms haven't taken off as much as many might have expected, despite the fact that many of the industry's giants have put their considerable heft behind these platforms.

One of the big issues in the tech world these days is the fact that mobile payment platforms haven’t taken off as much as many might have expected, despite the fact that many of the industry’s giants have put their considerable heft behind these platforms. The big question, then, is what these companies can do to boost enrollment among consumers overall, and whether that will work. Now, Google is hoping that another new innovation will help those numbers increase more rapidly going forward.

While the idea behind mobile payments is that they are more convenient and more secure than simply swiping a traditional credit card, it seems Google thinks even the requirement of having to tap a phone might be a hindrance to more widespread adoption, according to a report from Engadget. This is why Google is now testing a “Hands Free” platform in and around Silicon Valley which would allow people to make mobile payments without ever taking their phones out of their pockets at all. This will operate completely independent of Google’s existing Android Pay.

Google is working on unlocking another avenue for mobile payments.Google is working on unlocking another avenue for mobile payments.

How will it work?
The first and perhaps most important aspect of this new mobile platform is that it works on a far wider range of mobile devices, the report said. While only a handful of the latest smartphones can use Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, or even Google’s own Android Pay, this new system allows anyone with a phone that’s a few years old (anything since the iPhone 4S from 2011, and any Android phones running the 4.2 mobile OS that was rolled out in 2012) to make a purchase.

When consumers first install the Hands Free app, they will be asked to add a debit or credit card to their account, and then provide a picture of themselves, the report said. Then the app will use the phone’s various connective features (WiFi, Bluetooth, etc.) to determine whether it is in a store that accepts Hands Free. As a result, a person will only have to tell the cashier they are “Paying with Google” to have their device connect to the store’s system, and bring up their picture. After that, the cashier verifies that the person making the purchase is the person in front of them, and asks for their initials to complete the transaction. The system will then automatically delete the photo that popped up to ensure that stores or employees cannot retain them.

Testing under way
The pilot program that’s in use in and around Silicon Valley is, perhaps understandably, limited, the report said. Among big names, only restaurants like McDonald’s and Papa John’s will accept Hands Free, as will some smaller local businesses. Further, there seem to be no expansion plans any time soon. More likely, Google just wants to see how the system works in the real world before rolling it out more broadly.

Nonetheless, the sooner small businesses around the country can get on board with mobile payment platforms of any type, the better off they’re likely to be in terms of striking a chord with early adopters in their area.

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