Apple Pay Rival, Google Pay, Takes The Stage

Yesterday, at the Google I/O developers conference in San Francisco, Google announced a rival to Apple Pay, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal. Its moniker: a the rather unoriginal Google Pay.

The Apple Pay rival will come standard with the next edition of Google’s Android operating system and should become available in the coming months. The service does not require a separate app, and it will allow Android users to load their credit, debit and loyalty cards into their phone. Google Pay can be unlocked with the user’s existing password and will allow users to tap to pay at over 700,000 stores in the United States, according to Google.

Of course, this announcement has Apple advocates up in arms across the web and even in publications such as Fortune, and they are quick to point out that this seems to be yet another example of Google copying Apple services. Some are even harking back to when Steve Jobs referred to Android as “a stolen product” and promised to take it on and destroy it.

While this position has some merit, it seems to have missed a few details. Firstly, Apple Pay officially released on October 20, 2014, as reported in the Inquisitr at the time. At that time, Google had already had its own mobile payment app: Google Wallet. Wallet has been in existence since May 26, 2011. It was just, frankly, poorly-implemented and poorly-used. Google Pay is in that respect less a direct attack on Apple Pay than a relaunch of Google’s four-year-old service, being announced almost four years to the day after Google Wallet was.

Perhaps more importantly, competition is important. It’s enshrined in our antitrust laws and is, in theory at least, the foundation on which better services are built. Apple and Google need competition. It’s why Bill Gates gave money to Apple in 1997 to save the company; Microsoft knew they needed a competitor. Apple and Google are the two major competitors in the mobile OS market, Microsoft having been effectively marginalized, and they both know that they need each other.

Android Pay will be backwards-compatible to Android KitKat, released in 2013, making it usable on the vast majority of Android devices in use today. It uses near-field communication to allow for vendor payments and will also work within Android apps. It will also allow retailers to automatically credit a user’s loyalty programs, a feature which is rumored to be coming to Apple Pay in July.

Participating retailers will include McDonald’s, Macy’s, Best Buy, Walgreen and Whole Foods, said Google, who claim to be adding the service to make Android phones more useful, which may come in contrast to Apple Pay’s fee-per-transaction model. Google said that Android Pay will work with Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover, and an undisclosed source indicated that big U.S. banks, including J.P. Morgan Chase, Bank of America and Capital One, are on board.

[Photo by Bryan Thomas/Getty Images]