Apple has been one big step ahead of Google the past year with its Apple Pay mobile wallet. But, this week, Google has made a serious leap toward catching up, with Android Pay.
You can use Google's mobile wallet Android Pay like Apple Pay, to pay for products at stores, or to pay for apps like Airbnb or the ride service Lyft. It works this way. You save all your banking information, debit card and credit card numbers into Android Pay.
Instead of fussing around with cards or checkbooks, you just hand a cashier your smartphone. Or, just tap or swipe your Android phone past a Near-Field Communication (NFC) reader, to pay for your purchase electronically. You may have used an NFC reader before, if you have a credit card with an EMV chip on it.
Mobile wallets are safe, too. That's because Android Pay and Apple Pay don't share your information with retailers. Instead of giving them your credit card or debit card numbers, they create a virtual account number instead.
Your card numbers are stored in Android Pay, so you don't even need to bring them with you, or to remember them. In fact, if you lose your Android phone, you can lock access to Android Pay remotely. So, no need to contact your credit card companies.
Android Pay is compatible with cards issued by American Express, Discover, MasterCard and Visa. It will be accepted in more than 1 million retail locations, including McDonald's and Whole Foods. That number will increase.
Android Pay works on Android phones. Google says about 70% of Android devices will be able to download Android Pay, even many older Android phones. It will also be pre-installed on NFC-enabled Android phones from AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon.
You may be wondering what's to become of Google Wallet, which Android Pay is replacing. It's still around, and similar to PayPal. You can use it to transfer money to other Google Wallet users, just by typing in their email address.