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article image'I'll pay with Google': Pay with your voice with new Google app

By James Walker     Mar 3, 2016 in Technology
Google has announced a limited trial of a new mobile payments app that lets you pay for something in a store with nothing more than your voice. The system requires your phone to be present but doesn’t force you to pick it up.
The new service, called Hands Free, was announced on Google's Commerce blog. The company claims it simplifies the payment process by letting you complete a transaction "without fumbling to pass coins or your credit card to the cashier." Your phone can stay in your pocket as the system works via communication with the cashier rather than a voice control app.
Google has initiated a small pilot of the technology in the South Bay area of San Francisco. It works with Android and iOS devices and is currently available in eateries including McDonald's and Papa John's in the area.
The app uses your phone's Wi-Fi, Bluetooth low-energy and GPS connections to detect if you're standing in a participating store. It then enables the Hands Free feature and prepares it for use.
When you go to pay in the store, the transaction can be completed by saying "I'll pay with Google" to the cashier. The cashier then confirms your identity, asking you for your initials and comparing your face to your Hands Free profile picture.
"Imagine if you could rush through a drive-thru without reaching for your wallet, or pick up a hot dog at the ballpark without fumbling to pass coins or your credit card to the cashier," said Google. "This prompted us to build a pilot app called Hands Free that we're now in the early stages of testing. It lets you pay in stores quickly, easily and completely hands-free."
The payment can only be approved if your phone is physically within the store. Instant notifications are sent after every purchase to alert you of fraud. Any transaction flagged as suspicious will require further approval if the cashier doubts they are charging the correct person.
Google is already working to simplify the process, particularly for the cashier. It is running "very early experiments" that are capable of automatically confirming your identity, using visual identification to take a photo of your face in the store and compare it to the profile picture. All data remains within the store and is deleted immediately after use, without being transferred to Google.
Hands Free operates completely independently of Google's other, more conventional mobile payments system, Android Pay. The service now sees over 1.5 million new U.S. registrations each month and is accepted in over 2 million locations, the company wrote in its blog post.
Hands Free is starting small but is likely to expand further once the pilot program is complete. To get people trying the service, Google is offering all users $5 off their first Hands Free purchase in a bid to convince South Bay residents to give the system a go.
More about Google, Mobile, App, mobile payments, android pay
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