Google Pay – What It Is, How it Works, and Why You Should Use It
Not on board yet with Google Pay? Well, let’s imagine this scenario together. Have you ever spent what seems like an eternity foraging through your purse or backpack looking for your credit card You can sense the growing line of people behind you becoming increasingly impatient the same way they get when someone is writing a check. Sometimes it feels like an excavation is needed just to find what you’re looking for.
Enter Google Pay, where none of that is necessary. As long as you are dealing with a compatible Point-Of-Sale system with NFC (Near Field Communication) – which are becoming more common – all that is needed is a simple tap.
But if you didn’t completely understand the previous sentence, you aren’t alone. We are here to explain what is behind Google Pay. It’s also natural (and smart) to question the security of any new payment method, so we will discuss that as well.
Also, if you are wondering what’s the difference between GPay and Samsung Pay, we recommend you read our article “Samsung Pay vs. Google Pay – A Point to Point Comparison”.
What is Google Pay?
Google Pay is the lucky combination of Android Pay and Google Wallet into one service. It can serve as your all-encompassing and contactless payment solution. You won’t need for your device to touch any reader but there is a caveat. You can add all of your credit or debit cards, they just need to be supported. Once you are all set up, you will fly through checkout without ever opening an app.
Speaking of apps, you need never have to enter all of your payment and address information for in-app purchases again. Any loyalty points or special offers will be applied without you having to even think about it. You can also handle transactions, transfers and many more. Also, if your browser of choice is Chrome, Google Pay will be able to fill in your payment details as well.
So How Does Google Pay Actually Work?
Google Pay is actually safer than a traditional credit card. One big reason why is that it conducts business with a virtual account number that represents your account details so that your credit or debit card number can’t be intercepted and copied. The number used is randomly generated within Google’s servers and not your device, making them tough to steal and crack. Also, you should automatically receive a payment confirmation that contains where the payment occurred, the name of the business, and phone number so that you can track anything shady.
Google Pay uses NFC, so what happens if your smartphone gets too close to a transaction that isn’t yours?
The two devices (your phone and the reader) would have to be within two inches of each other, your phone first has to be unlocked, and you still need a PIN, password, or pattern to authorize the transaction. This makes an accidental or unauthorized purchase or far more unlikely. If you lose your device, you can use Google Find My Device to lock down your phone, perform a wipe, and/or assign a new password. You won’t have to cancel all of your cards.
Google Pay is now accepted at more than one million stores in the U.S, and that number is growing, but it isn’t available worldwide just yet. For the Google Pay app to work, your device must be NFC-enabled and run at least KitKat 4.4 (which is close to about 70% of devices).
Remember when we talked about Google’s servers being required to produce the hard-to-steal and use dummy number in lieu of your real credit or debit card number? Does this mean an Internet outage will render the service useless? Not necessarily—up to a point. Some of the numbers, called tokens, are stored on the device in limited quantities as backups; but don’t ask where or how because it’s a secret.
Must Read: How to Find Your Phone Using Google Find My Device
If you are still feeling wary of using your Android device to make payments, keep in mind that in addition to the token used to protect your credit or debit card information, there are other safety measures involved. You will be required to set a screen lock if you don’t have one already. This isn’t a bad idea even if you never use Android Pay.
Do not save passwords or PINs on your device or where others can discover them. Encrypting your device can make it nearly impossible for someone who steals your phone to decipher your data. Lock each individual app that contains sensitive data using an app such as CM Security or AppLock. You can also set up two-step verification through your Google account by using a web browser to go to My Account>Sign-In and Security>Signing into Google>2-Step Verification.
Is all of this overkill? Maybe. After all, Google Pay is honestly more secure than carrying around your credit card. But some of these things are essential and required. The lock screen is required. An additional PIN, password, or pattern is also mandatory to authenticate the transaction itself. Can someone crack one of those passwords, PINs, or patterns? Unfortunately, yes.
The easiest way is to study the smudges left by the fingerprint oils on your touchscreen. That’s why encryption is also not a bad idea. A fingerprint scan is a better, more convenient option for authentication. To prevent smudge attacks, it’s probably not a bad idea to have overlapping PINs, passwords, or patterns that double back on themselves. A smudge attacker would have to try to hold your phone up to the light and figure out both of the PINs, patterns, or passwords to complete an entire transaction using Google Pay, which seems a bit unlikely.
To increase the security of your device, we recommend two applications that you will enjoy using:
- Security Master – Antivirus, VPN, AppLock, Booster – Free with In-app purchases
- AppLock – Free with In-App Purchases
How to Set Up Google Pay
If you don’t have the app already, you can download it from Google Play Store by clicking the button below:
Open the app on your device and add your cards. If you already have a card stored on your Google account, all you need to do is tap the card to associate it with Google pay and confirm details such as the security code on the back of the card. You will have to have a lock screen set up in order to add a card. To add a new card, you can simply snap its picture.
If you need more information on how to use Google Pay, we suggest you read our comprehensive guide “How to Use Google Play in Store”.
Google Pay – Leave Your Cards At Home
Mobile payments are probably in the future for most of us. When that happens depends on how ingrained our tangible plastic card habits are. Google would like to speed that up, of course, but first, it has to convince both merchants and consumers that this is a superior payment method and to change what is a lifelong behavior for most. Google Pay is even compatible with smartwatches now, so it’s even more convenient.
If you already use Google Pay, what are your impressions? What security do you use? Have you had any problems? Send us your thoughts on all of these topics in the comments down below!