Google announced on Wednesday that it is testing a new Free Payments system called ‘Hands free.’
The new app would let you pay at stores easily without even touching your smartphone or wallet, but with verification by facial recognition.
Google says when you are ready to pay at a store, you simply tell the cashier “I’ll pay with Google”. The cashier confirms your identity, uses your initials and the photo you added to your Hands Free profile.
Using Bluetooth, location services and other sensors on your smartphone running Android (Jelly Bean 4.2 or higher) or iPhone (4S or higher), Hands Free can detect if you’re near a store that accepts hands-free payment.
“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. This prompted us to build a pilot app called Hands Free that we’re now in the early stages of testing,” said Pali Bhat, Senior Director, Product Management in the company blog post.
Until now, the Android Pay customers needed to pull out their smartphones from their pockets to make a payment in stores.
The free app is available now on iOS and Android devices, but the list of merchants that accept Hands Free payments is extremely limited. At the moment, Google is piloting the new payment system in a handful of eateries in San Francisco’s South Bay area, including McDonald’s and Papa Johns, and seeking feedback from users who try the new feature.
“As an added thank you for testing Hands Free, we’re offering up to $5 off your first Hands Free purchase at participating stores,” adds Bhat.
At some locations, Google is experimenting by using cameras in stores to recognize people with Hands Free digital wallets so they could pay without even pausing.
“At select stores, we’re also in the early stages of experimenting with visual identification so that you can breeze through checkout even faster,” Bhat said.
“This process uses an in-store camera to automatically confirm your identity based on your Hands Free profile picture.
“All images captured by the Hands Free camera are deleted immediately.”
Google’s Android pay, which was launched in September 2015, has averaged about 1.5 million accounts monthly, with the number of locations accepting it rising to over 2 million.