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Google Pay vs. Apple Pay - Mobile payments comparison 2019

​It is visible that mobile wallets are slowly taking over the usual payment methods but which ones are the best? For merchants, they only need a contactless POS terminals, but for consumers we are going to drill down everything they need to know about the two most popular ones – Google Pay and Apple Pay - as well as their pros and cons.

According to the most recent studies of WorldPay, the percentage of using eWallet on eCommerce platforms is 36% and on POS is 16%. And the usage percentages are rising each year. For example, in the U.S. in 2016, there were 232 million smartphones in use out of which 16.5% were used to make a contactless payment the same year (Juniper Research). In 2018, that number rose to 20%.

It is visible that mobile wallets are slowly taking over the usual payment methods but which ones are the best? For merchants, they only need a contactless POS terminals, but for consumers we are going to drill down everything they need to know about the two most popular ones – Google Pay and Apple Pay - as well as their pros and cons.

While each platform serves virtually the same function, each one is slightly different with its own strength. And despite the adoption rates, use of these mobile payment platforms is growing as the support infrastructure for them – mainly contactless POS systems – is adopted by more merchants as payment schemes are pushing this initiative through regional compliance/mandate requests.

What is Google Pay

Google Pay is Google's contactless payment platform/digital wallet. In February 2018, the company announced merger of its different payment methods into one unified brand, called Google Pay. So what has earlier been known as Android Pay app is now rebranded to Google Pay, and the Google Wallet app is now called Google Pay Send.

Android users can use Google Pay for:

  • making payments – in stores and in apps
  • sending and receving money
  • storing barcode loyalty cards (including plane tickets)
  • storing gift cards
  • paying for travel by train & bus
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Google said they were also working on QR codes for making peer-to-peer (P2P) payments in September 2018, but nothing is still officially confirmed.

How Google Pay works

Setting up the app and using is very straightforward. If you are from one of the countries that supports Google Pay, download it from the Google Play Store and install it. Then follow these easy steps:

  1. Open the app
  2. tap the "Get Started" button
  3. Add a payment method (credit or debit card/ PayPal account)
  4. Optional: add a loyalty card by scanning the card's barcode

And then, this is how a card is verified in Google Pay:

How to pay with Google Pay in stores?

For making payments in stores, users just need to unlock and tap smartphone to the contactless POS terminal until a checkmark appears on the smartphone's screen. If the transaction amount is higher than low value payment amount (set up by payment schemes on country level), users will have to unlock the phone before tapping it again on the POS terminal.

Paying with a smartwatch is slightly different but still very convenient. Users need ot open the Google Pay app, hold the watch over the POS terminal until a sound or vibration is heard. If asked, users need to choose "Credit", regardless of the type of card. For debit transactions, users may be asked to enter a PIN, the one previously set up with the user's bank.  

For using a loyalty card in stores, just open the Google Pay app, go to Passes and present barcode to cashier for scanning.

How to use Google Pay online?

Paying on an app or on website is available if there are Google Pay buttons at checkout or if the app or website offers Google Pay as a payment method. Simply click that G Pay button, select the card, and it's done.

In the most recent news, eBay announced to introduce Google Pay to its suite of payment options to further increase customer choice in its new managed payments experience.

How to use Google Pay to send or receive money?

Google Pay app can also be used to send money to friends, family, and "your favorite dog walker" even if they do not have the app. However, it is still only available just in the United States, India and the United Kingdom as web only service. Users can even use Gmail to send money and receive it to any email address. To add it as an attachment, just look for the dollar sign.

Purchase history

The app gives users control over spending with the purchase history to track it in the Activity section. In front of each transaction, there is an icon which shows what category it belongs to. In addition, when users tap on a specific transaction, it shows more detailed information along with transaction location pinned in Google Maps.

Pros of Google Pay

There are a plethora of reasons to use the Google Pay app. This payment app makes a lot of sense in a world where Android smartphones are the most frequently used devices. In addition, it can be used physically in any place with a contactless payment option. Users just need to pay attention to see whether the store accepts the card brands they have in the digital wallet.

Google's reputation and the background are well known around the world, which is reflected in the fact that there are more than 1 million locations that accept Google Pay as a method of payment and more than 100 million users who installed the app, thereby putting their trust in the new process.

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Is Google Pay safe?

Security is always a concern when it comes to financial information. When making a purchase online by entering credit card information, users usually rely on the vendor to provide adequate security measures that protect users from credit card fraud because users are handing over their credit card information. With Google Pay, payment information is always encrypted. Instead of using actual credit card number and other personal information, Google Pay tokenizes your card account number and stores it in the cloud thus ensuring security of your personal information.

As a result, Google Pay's tokenisation is different from Apple Pay's since tokens are stored in the cloud as opposed to Apple who stores tokens in a secure chip within the phone. Still, if you should ever lose your phone, Google recommends using Find My Device app to find or erase payment credentials in order to keep your data safe.


For transaction authentication Google pay accepts pattern, passcode or any biometric authentication supported by smartphone's hardware (fingerprint, retina scan, facial recognition, etc.). However, if all of that fails, cardholder's signature the last resort that alwys work. Pin associated with physical card (that is enrolled to Google pay) is NEVER EVER used for confirming transactions initiated with Google pay.

It may ease users to know that payment card's fraud protection policy still remains in place for all G pay transactions.

Note that when Google Pay is used in a physical store, card networks consider Google Pay payments to be cardholder-present transactions. When used for in-app purchases or web checkouts, Google Pay payments are considered cardholder-not-present transactions

What is Apple Pay (& Apple Wallet)

Like Google Pay, Apple Pay is a contactless payment technology launched in 2014. It was designed to move consumers away from physical wallets into a world where your debit and credit cards are on your iPhone, Apple Watch, iPad, , and Mac allowing you to pay using your device instead of a card.

Apple Pay is, however, only available on iOS devices and it can be used for:

  • making payments – in stores, iOS apps, web Safari
  • sending, receiving, and requesting money via iMessages (in some countries)
  • paying for transit (in some countries)
  • storing loyalty/rewards cards

Apple Pay exists within Apple Wallet. Wallet— formerly known as Passbook — is Apple's answer to digitizing all the cards that could be found in a physical wallet — including Apple Pay. Wallet stores virtual versions of passes, tickets, coupons, credit and debit and loyalty cards so users can easily access them at any time. Wallet is also location aware and always online, so the app can even pull up and update the balance on a coffee shop card or gate number on a boarding pass, so users always know how much they have or where they need to be.

In June 2018, Apple announced it will add support for using student ID cards for building access and campus payment to Wallet and Apple Pay. This feature is to be available across six U.S. college campuses.

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How Apple Pay & Apple Wallet work

Users can start using Apple Pay after adding their credit, debit, or prepaid card to Apple Wallet. Users have to add their cards to any device that they want to use with Apple Pay.

Here is what users need to use Apple Pay, if coming from one of the countries that supports Apple Pay:

And here is how to add a payments card in 4 steps:

Adding Rewards card to Apple Pay first requires adding them to Wallet. It is slightly more complicated but it is very easy to use in the end. Note that this process is not the same for every rewards program, but mostly goes like this:

  1. Open Wallet
  2. Tap on Find Apps for Wallet
  3. Search for companies/stores/merchants that offer apps for reward programs
  4. Download the app
  5. Tap add money, choose Details, and Add to Wallet


How to use Apple Pay in stores?

Users can pay in stores with Touch ID and Face ID. With Touch ID, they need to first rest their finger on it, and then hold smartphone to the contactless POS.

To pay with Apple Watch with the default card, users will need to double-click the side button and hold the display of the Apple Watch within a few centimeters of the contactless reader. The payment is finished when users feel a gentle tap. Depending on the store and transaction amount, users might need to sign a receipt or enter a PIN.

When it comes to rewards cards, unlike many barcode-style Wallet passes, rewards and loyalty cards have specific code within them that allows those cards to pop up automatically on Apple Pay scanners before paying with a credit or debit card. In contrast, passes like Starbucks Rewards can be added to your Wallet app, but users have to manually select the card and hold it out to be scanned.

How to pay with Apple Pay online?

With iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch, Apple Pay can be used to pay within apps when there is Apple Pay as a payment option, so users can tap the Apple Pay button or choose Apple Pay as payment method.

Apple Pay can also be used to pay on the web in Safari, like this:

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How to send and receive money with Apple Pay?

In order to do this, here's what users need, apart from being at least 18 years old and a resident of the United States:

  • A compatible device with iOS 11.2 and later or watchOS 4.2 and later.
  • Two-factor authentication for Apple ID.
  • Enough money on Apple Cash card (only available in US) or an eligible debit card in Wallet.
  • Users might be asked to verify identity.

With Apple Pay, users can send money in iMessages, Apple Watch, Siri.

Pros of Apple Pay

Apple is known for creating superlative user experiences and for it's user to have strong sense of  loyalty towards the brand, and that is one of the biggest advantages of Apple Pay too. With the new Apple Card coming in summer 2019, there will probably be even more users of Apple Pay soon.

For US users there may be options available because they can store commuting tickets and use payments on universities, but many of those features will probably come to other parts of the world soon.

Is Apple Pay safe?

Compared with other payment systems, Apple Pay is safe to use because it requires two-factor authentication for all purchases, whether Touch ID, Face ID, a PIN, or a passcode.  

When you add a credit card to Apple Wallet to use with Apple Pay, the service tokenizes payment card details and stores it into device's secure element. Completing card enrolment into Apple Pay additionally requires one-time-use security code and biometric verification of the cardholder.

Therefore, similarly like with Google Pay, real card number is never transmitted during transaction authorization, and on top of it a potential fraudster would need cardholder's phone and biometric data to complete purchse transaction.

Apple Pay fee

Transactions funded with a debit card or the Apple Pay Cash balance are free, while a 3% fee applies to credit card transactions. Users will have to add their cards to each device with which they plan to use Apple Pay Cash.

Comparison of Google Pay vs. Apple Pay

Google Pay Apple Pay
Compatibility AndroidWeb iOS, MacOS
Payment methods Credit card, debit card, bank transfer Credit card, debit card
Credit card fee  for the merchants 2.9% 3%
Debit fee Free Free
Bank transfer fee Free N/A
Withdrawal speed Up to 1-3 business days Up to 1-3 business days
Transfer limits $9,999 $10,000
Special features Integration with other Google services Automatically available in iOS
Barcode/loyalty cards Supported Supported