With just under half of smartphones in Australia running the Android platform, we weigh up the advantages and disadvantages of the various Android digital wallet services on the market in 2018.
If you are an Apple user, we have a separate guide for you.
Launched as Android Pay in mid-2016, this app has undergone a rebrand and integrated its Google Wallet into one app. It will also be able to be used in Google Chrome.
You can use Google Pay with any Android device running KitKat 4.4 or above and this app has a wide range of banking partners, including most American Express, ANZ, Westpac and CommBank cards as well as many credit unions and smaller banks—check the list to see if your card is eligible.
Just like Apple Pay, if you lose your phone, you can track your device and wipe the data using the Android Device Manager.
If you have a Samsung phone, this is probably your best option.
Supported banks cover the same as Google Pay but also includes Citi—check the full list here.
This method of payment can be used offline, overseas and at nearly any card terminal, regardless of whether it accepts contactless payment or not.
This is because Samsung Pay uses ‘Magnetic Secure Transmission’ technology acquired from LoopPay, which lets your phone emulate the swiping of a card by sending a magnetic signal to the terminal.
Note that this doesn’t work at terminals where you have to insert the card, such as at public transport recharge stations or parking meters.
One security advantage Samsung Pay has over Google Pay is that it allows for iris scanning as a verification method, in addition to fingerprint and PIN code.
Samsung Pay trumps Google Pay in terms of reviews in the Google Play store, with an average rating of 4.7 vs Google’s 4.2
A downside is that it doesn’t support payments within many apps at all.
You have to have a Samsung phone, with the supported devices including both smartphones and wearables such as the Galaxy Note8, Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+, Galaxy S7 edge, Galaxy S7, Galaxy S6 edge+, Galaxy Note5, Galaxy S6 edge, Galaxy S6 active, Galaxy S6, Gear S2 (with NFC only) and Gear S3—current list here.
Samsung Pay should come pre-installed on your Samsung device but if not, here is the:
You can earn $5 in Samsung Rewards (not too sure about this program) by using the promo code SIGNUP.
Bank-specific digital wallets
These are the most restrictive of the bunch, obviously only covering certain cards at one bank, plus convenience is reduced for these applications, as for payments over $100, you still have to enter your PIN.
CommBank Tap & Pay
Of all the major four’s apps, this one has gotten the best reception from its users.
It quite easily supports any NFC-enabled Android phone, or you can purchase a $2.99 PayTag to attach to a non-NFC-enabled Android or any iPhone.
A handy feature of this app is that you can use it to withdraw money at contactless-enabled Commonwealth Bank ATMs.
All personal Visa credit and debit cards are eligible.
Like with CommBank, iPhone users can purchase a Pay Tag for $3.99 to access this feature too.
Westpac Tap & Pay
Westpac has bowed to the corporate giants and removed its own app, preferring that its customers use Google Pay or Samsung Pay.
If you are a ANZ, CommBank or NAB customer and have a Garmin wearable device, then you can use Garmin Pay.
The same banks plus Westpac are supported in Fitbit Pay.
Samsung is the clear winner here, as long as you have a Samsung device.
If not, Google Pay could be a good go-to, with the bank-specific apps a distant third.
Innovation in payment via wearables is exciting too!
A word of warning: whilst there is a high convenience factor in using your phone to pay for a lot of purchases, maybe think twice when going through a drive-thru and reaching your phone out to a terminal or cashier—it might be better to use an actual card in that case to avoid any unexpected drops.
Supplementary images courtesy respective suppliers.