Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

Android Pay Rolls Out to U.K. Consumers and London Transit

  • Most major retail banks and payment cards are supported
  • Barclays Plc rejects service and will not support technology

Alphabet Inc.’s contactless mobile payment system Android Pay went live in the U.K. Wednesday, making the nation the first outside of the U.S. to support the service.

Shoppers will be able to pay with their Android-powered smartphones anywhere that accepts contactless payments, including on London’s transit network of buses, taxis and underground trains. Visa and MasterCard accounts are eligible to be added to compatible Android phones, and major banks such as Halifax, Bank of Scotland, HSBC and Lloyds Bank are on-board for the roll out.

In a statement on its website Wednesday, Alphabet described the U.K. as "one of the most advanced contactless nations in the world."

The U.K.’s use of contactless payments has been increasing over the last few years. According to February statistics from the U.K. Cards Association, 84.2 million credit and debit cards are currently in active use by the nation’s 64.1 million people. About 1.3 billion pounds ($1.9 billion) was spent in February using contactless payment technologies.

Notably absent from supporting Android Pay in the U.K. is Barclays Plc. "At this stage Barclays and Barclaycard are not planning on participating in Android Pay in the U.K.," a spokeswoman for the bank told Bloomberg via e-mail. Barclays initially withheld support for Apple Inc.’s contactless Apple Pay system when it rolled out in the U.K. in July 2015, but ultimately signed up to the service nine months later.

To use Android Pay, consumers must download a free app from Google’s Play Store, add their card details and then tap their mobile device against a payment device as if it were a contactless card.

Singapore and Australia are slated to receive Android Pay support "soon," according to Alphabet’s announcement.

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