Google, Square Reportedly Test System to Rival Apple Pay

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In the wake of Apple Pay’s early success, rival Google is reportedly working with payment company Square on its own high-tech, credit-card-free, pay-at-the-register system.

Named Plaso, the system would let users of Google’s Android operating system speak their initials to pay at participating stores, tech blog The Information reported Wednesday.

The two companies have been testing the system since last fall, the blog reported, citing four sources who are involved with the product or have been briefed on it.

The story mentioned Papa John’s Pizza and Panera Bread Co. as retailers where the system could be used.

Apple Pay launched in October. The system, which works with the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, allows users to make point-of-sale purchases with their phones, using information from their existing credit card and debit card accounts.

It’s expected to work in conjunction with the upcoming Apple Watch, letting users hold the device near a reader, as they currently do with their phones, without having to expose credit card information such as its number or security code.

Apple Pay has had some early success, striking deals with Visa, MasterCard and American Express, as well as more than 500 banks. It’s accepted at dozens of major retailers — including Bloomingdale’s, the Disney Store, McDonald’s, Chevron and Walgreens — with more stores, including Starbucks, to come, Apple promises.

Still a niche market

For its part, Google has offered Google Wallet, a cashless, cardless payment system, since 2011. But it has failed to catch on with retailers and consumers as widely as Apple Pay has.

Meanwhile, Square has worked to adjust to the era of digital transactions. Its mobile card reader has allowed small and independent businesses to accept credit cards using their smartphones since 2010. But with major players such as Google and Apple working to make fumbling in your wallet for a card obsolete, the company has scrambled to react.

The company has announced plans to begin accepting Apple Pay sometime this year. But the report in The Information says Square, founded by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, is working on an Android-based tablet of its own that would replace the iPads used by Square registers in many small businesses.

Although mobile point-of-sale payments have become popular in Japan and some other countries, they remain a niche market in the United States. But the early success of Apple — which claims that two out of three transactions in the space are done on its service — clearly has other players scrambling to position themselves in what looks to be a growing market.


Photo via iStock.