Contactless payments are hugely popular in the UK. The technology allows people to quickly pay for low-value items simply by tapping an RFID-enabled debit or credit card, or a smartphone against a special reader.
With almost four percent of card purchases now made using the technology, representing £2.4 billion ($3 billion) in sales during September alone, you can see why Google is eager to make inroads into this booming market.
“It's both terrifyingly interesting and interestingly terrifying”
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Until the end of the year, Google is offering some pretty sweet incentives to those using the technology to pay for stuff.
Every time someone uses Android Pay in a UK store, or on the Transport for London network, they’ll get a virtual Christmas cracker. This could be filled with one of literally hundreds of thousands of prizes, including a £10 gift card for Costa Coffee, a pair of tickets for the Odeon Cinemas, or £500 to spend at House of Fraser or Currys PC World.
Users will also collect a free virtual coin after each transaction. Collect five coins, and you get £3 to spend at Costa Coffee, which is enough for a cake or an Americano.
I suppose it is the season for giving. But Google’s offer isn’t entirely altruistic. Adoption of Android Pay in the UK has been relatively sluggish. Anecdotally, I don’t know anyone who actually uses the technology. That’s likely due to the fact that contactless payment cards are a standard feature with most UK bank accounts, unlike the US where they’re a relative rarity.
By offering these generous incentives, Google will introduce Android Pay to a load more people. And who knows, maybe some of them will actually stick around.