Today (18 May 2016) Android Pay launches in the UK and I believe this is a great thing for mobile payments in the UK. One of the main benefits of mobile payments is security as fraud is reduced by the retailer not getting your actual card number.The BetterRewards article Apple Pay - if you can you should addresses the reasons why it's better to pay with your mobile, it was based on Apple Pay but the same reasons also apply to Android Pay.
Android Pay will work similar to Apple Pay, the main difference being that for amounts under £30 you can use Android Pay without fingerprint or passcode authentication just like you can tap a physical card. Whether you prefer this method or the Apple method where every transaction requires authorisation is a personal preference but using this particular implementation on Android makes sense as not all Android devices have fingerprint sensors and the ones that do are often more fiddly to use than the ones on the iPhone.
Just like Apple Pay, Android Pay supports loyalty cards which we're hoping more retailers embrace in the future so that customers don't have to carry loads of cards round with them. We'd also like to see it become easier for small businesses to set up their own mobile based loyalty scheme.
On the loyalty scheme side of things we've been surprised how slow Nectar has been to embrace technology, although Tesco has had a Clubcard app for many years that allows you to use your Clubcard on your phone Nectar have neglected this approach on the basis that it wouldn't work on all their partners till systems. In the end it means if you don't have your card you're not getting your points. Personally I don't carry around loyalty cards unless the benefit is great and Nectar is such a poor scheme it's not worth carrying the card around. If Nectar carries on this path I do see smartphones as another nail in Nectar's coffin as people start to see that it's pointless carrying around plastic cards just to earn a few points.
So what about Sainsbury's? Let's forget about Nectar, every Sainsbury's I've been into have card readers that support contactless payments but the contactless functionality is disabled. This means at lunchtime when most people are buying meal deals the queue moves slower than it should. They're the only one of the big supermarkets that don't have contactless enabled when they have the equipment to do so. Tesco doesn't have contactless card readers in all stores (except in London which has had contactless in all stores for a few years) but they're slowly rolling out in other stores and those that have contactless capable equipment have it enabled. There's been talk of Sainsbury's trialing it in stores for a while but they keep putting the date back.
In London you can use contactless almost everywhere in businesses small and large. For day to day usage Sainsbury's is one of the notable exceptions. They missed the Apple Pay launch and now were also unprepared for the Android Pay launch.
Neither Apple Pay or Android Pay has a £30 limit (places where you can't use your device over £30 are because the retailer has not upgraded their equipment to accept authenticated mobile payments above the £30 limit physical cards have. You'd be surprised how many small businesses have equipment that's capable of taking contactless payments over £30 but they've not told their staff of the capability.
I see a positive future for mobile payments and as customers we need to convince businesses that we use to update their equipment to support it if they don't already.