Major credit card issuer MBNA has enabled support for Android Pay in the UK. The support arrives very quickly on the heels of the mPayment platform’s launch in the country last month, when it arrived with the support of several major banks.
While another major mPayment platform, Apple Pay, has already been in the UK for some time, it is not a direct competitor against Android Pay as the two services are on different and discreet mobile operating systems. Rather, Android Pay has beaten its real competitor, Samsung Pay, to the UK market, and the new MBNA support should help to further solidify its foothold in anticipation of Samsung Pay’s launch in the region sometime this year.
It’s still going to be a tough fight whenever Samsung Pay does arrive in the UK. While Android Pay requires merchants to use NFC-enabled contactless POS readers, as Apple Pay does, Samsung Pay’s MST technology makes it compatible with virtually any POS reader. And it isn’t clear whether Android Pay’s approach to security will help or hinder it in its competition with Samsung Pay; it relies primarily on encryption and eschews the fingerprint-based authentication offered by Samsung Pay. While that makes it compatible with more devices, as users’ expectations around mobile security evolve, it could be seen as a risk some are not willing to take.
Of course, that rivalry doesn’t matter too much to MBNA right now. Commenting in a statement announcing the Android Pay support, the company’s Head of Innovation, Gary Watts, said its customers “have been avid early adopters of contactless payment technology,” adding that the MBNA team is “excited to be at the forefront of Android Pay’s UK launch.”