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    Jun 28, 2016

    New phone not needed for Android Pay

    ALL SMARTPHONE users, not just those using Apple and Samsung devices, can now tap their phones at retail stores to pay for goods and services.

    This comes with today's launch of Android Pay, Google's mobile payment and digital wallet service.

    At launch, Android Pay users can save into their phones Visa and MasterCard credit or debit cards issued by five major banks here - POSB, DBS Bank, OCBC Bank, United Overseas Bank (UOB) and Standard Chartered Bank.

    Cards issued by these banks - which account for more than 80 per cent of all cards here - have also been accepted by rival service Apple Pay since last month.

    Android Pay's launch in Singapore comes after that in the United States in September last year and Britain last month.

    Google Singapore's country director, Joanna Flint, said Singapore is a key market.

    "It is one of the most advanced mobile nations in the world with the highest level of smartphone penetration in Asia," she added, noting that Singaporeans love to shop.

    Like rival services Apple Pay and Samsung Pay, Android Pay uses the wireless Near Field Communication (NFC) technology to transmit data between the mobile device and a contactless payment reader.

    Contactless NFC payment is accepted at 30,000 retail points here, including FairPrice and Cold Storage supermarkets, as well as Guardian, Starbucks and Uniqlo outlets.

    But unlike Apple Pay and Samsung Pay, Android Pay does not require users to own the latest handsets. Even older models like the two-year-old Samsung Galaxy S4 and LG G3 smartphones can work on Android Pay.

    Market-research firm Forrester Asia Pacific mobile-payments researcher Ng Zhi Ying said this opens up the technology to more users. "You don't need to buy a new phone to use the payment service."

    Marketing manager Dion Liew, 35, said she will use Android Pay as her Samsung Galaxy S6 is not among the supported handsets for Samsung Pay. "I want to try to see if Android Pay can replace my physical credit cards," she added.

    Users of the latest Samsung phones such as the Galaxy S7, for instance, can choose between Samsung Pay and Android Pay, but not both.

    But Samsung Pay is more widely accepted, even at retail outlets that have yet to install a contactless reader, as it works with traditional magnetic-stripe card terminals.

    Users place their fingers on the phone's fingerprint sensor to authenticate a transaction.

    So far, more than 47,000 credit and debit cards issued by DBS have been registered for Apple Pay. These users have increased their contactless transactions by at least 50 per cent since, noted Anthony Seow, head of cards and unsecured loans at DBS Consumer Banking Group.

    More than 40,000 cards issued by OCBC have also been registered for Apple Pay.

    Figures are not available for Samsung Pay in Singapore.