Android Pay, Google’s alternative to Apple Pay, will launch in the UK at the end of March. However, Google has yet to confirm the widely aired rumours.
The launch follows the rollout of Android Pay in the US last September, which saw it go live in one million locations.
But it still lags behind Apple Pay, which launched in the UK back in July 2015, giving the Cupertino, California-based company a head start of some eight months in the mobile payments market.
Android Pay closely resembles Apple Pay in the way it works, enabling users to pay for purchases using a smartphone loaded with a user’s Visa or MasterCard details with a near-field communication (NFC) enabled contactless terminal.
The market is set to experience somewhat of a Mexican standoff with Samsung due to launch its Samsung Pay contactless payments service in the UK, though the Korean technology giant has yet to announce an official launch date.
Already launched in Korea and the US, Samsung Pay offers contactless payment through both NFC and Magnetic Secure Transmission, something it gained through the acquisition of LoopPay.
This means that unlike Apple Pay and Android Pay, Samsung Pay will work with older payment terminals without NFC functionality, potentially giving it much more reach with UK retailers than rival mobile payments services.
All three services are backed by major payments companies Visa and MasterCard. Visa has also been making efforts to boost the spread of contactless and modern electronic payments in Europe.
Apple’s successful rollout of Apple Pay is in part down to it offering the market a limited selection of smartphones all running the same or very similar versions of iOS.
In comparison Google has a bigger challenge due to the wide range of different handsets running Android with multiple and customised versions of the operating system arguably fragmenting the Android market, though at the same time diversifying its ecosystem.
But the relative success of Apple Pay has the knock-on effect of improving mobile payment and digital wallet adoption across the market, and will see contactless payments spending soar.