Android Pay has launched in the UK, becoming the second of the major international mobile payment platforms to be available in the region, after Apple Pay.
While the mPayment platform is sometimes framed as a rival to Apple Pay, the two services do not actually compete directly; Apple Pay is restricted to Apple’s iOS hardware ecosystem, while Android Pay runs on Android devices. Thus, Android Pay’s biggest rival is actually the platform from the most prominent OEM making Android devices—Samsung Pay. That platform is slated for launch in the UK this year, though Samsung has not offered specifics with respect to the date.
Android Pay launches in the UK with the support of major banks including Halifax, HSBC, and Bank of Scotland, though Barclays is conspicuously absent. Having dragged its feet in enabling Apple Pay support, the bank now says that it has no plans to support Android Pay, choosing instead to focus on its own mPayment platform.
That recalcitrance aside, the UK launch of Android Pay may signal the growing popularity of mPayments in general. Citing Bloomberg, The Telegraph reports that Apple Pay now has 12 million users worldwide, while Android Pay and Samsung Pay each have five million; and a BBC report notes that contactless payment cards were slow in gaining traction after their 2008 launch in the UK, but reached a “tipping point” when Transport for London enabled support. TfL already supports Apple Pay, and it’s a fair bet that Android Pay support is on the way, too.