Smartphone payments about to go Hands Free with Google

3 Mar 2016

Google is working on a new mobile payments platform, called Hands Free, that aims to allow you to pay for goods without taking the phone out of your pocket in an internet of things (IoT) future.

If Google’s plans are what they claim to be, the Hands Free platform its developing would take mobile payments to another level and, possibly, raise more questions than answers on security, with a payments system that uses the phone’s sensors to register when it’s near a point-of-sale device.

As TechCrunch explains, Hands Free would allow a member of staff to see that the customer they’re talking to has a device capable of paying for items using the platform.

The customer would then give the go-ahead to charge their card saying they will “pay with Google” and then just leaves their initials for the store’s records.

Of course, the obvious question that comes to mind about such a transaction is assurances of security, but Google says that when the staff member connects with the customer, a profile image will show up of the customer, effectively turning Google into its own bank.

Cashing in on growth

With a trial run now operating in a small catchment area of San Francisco, Google’s attempts to bring in Hands Free is the company’s aim to try and one-up its rivals and neighbours over at Apple with its Apple Pay.

Currently, the two competing mobile payment platforms are quite similar in concept, just used on different devices, but Google’s latest figures boast that it is having 1.5m new registrations to Android Pay each month in the US, with 2m locations capable of using the service.

Speaking of Hands Free, Google’s senior director of product management, Pali Bhat, said that, for the moment, the company’s just seeing what the reaction is during its localised trial run.

“Our goal is not really scaling this, our goal is to see how users are reacting and how merchants are experiencing this,” he said.

“Once we’ve made all the fine-tuning that potentially we get from the feedback from merchants and consumers, we then are going to start scaling it. Until then our goal is not to have millions and millions of users adopt.”

Phone in jeans pocket image via Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic