Google Pay launched in South Africa

Google Pay contactless card payments have rolled out in South Africa, according to the company’s official support documentation and tests performed by MyBroadband.

Previously, Google Pay only worked for in-app and online purchases from South Africa, not in-store tap payments.

South Africa is the first African country to receive support for Google contactless payments.

Android Police discovered the Google Wallet and Google Pay app support pages had listed six new countries on Tuesday morning — including South Africa.

MyBroadband found the support page showing which specific banks were Google Pay partners.

It listed Absa, Discovery Bank, FirstRand (FNB and RMB), Investec, Nedbank, and Standard Bank.

The table below shows the card types at each bank supporting Google Pay.

Following the report, MyBroadband checked the Google Play Store and found the Google Wallet app was now available in South Africa.

Among other features, Google Wallet stores payment cards to make in-store tap payments using Google Pay.

We were able to load various debit and credit cards from Absa, Discovery Bank, FNB, and Nedbank into the Google Wallet app on several Android phones. Attempting to load a Capitec card failed.

We also confirmed that we could make purchases on a Yoco contactless-enabled payment terminal with each of the supported cards.

On a Samsung device which had a card loaded for Samsung Pay, we first had to set Google Pay as the default payment app for it to work.

MyBroadband could load payment cards from Absa, Discovery Bank, FNB, and Nedbank

The launch of Google Pay in South Africa comes after various similar tap-to-pay platforms launched in the country, including Samsung Pay, Apple Pay, Garmin Pay, and Fitbit Pay.

What makes Google Pay different from these platforms is its support for a much greater number of smartphones, tablets, and smartwatches.

While other platforms are brand-specific, Google Wallet and Google Pay’s tap-on-device capability is supported on many Android devices, provided they meet the requirements:

  • Android version 5.0 or higher for smartphones
  • Near field communications (NFC) support
  • Host card emulation (HCE) support

Numerous Android smartphones from Nokia, Oppo, Sony, Vivo, Xiaomi, and other manufacturers meet these minimum requirements.

Samsung users can choose between Samsung Pay and Google Pay.

Most Huawei smartphones released in the last few years won’t be able to use the app, as they have been banned from using Google Mobile Services (GMS) by the United States government.

Huawei users will have to rely on built-in tap functionality in banking apps to make tap payments with their phones. FNB and Standard Bank currently offer this capability.

iOS devices can install the Google Wallet app for storing cards but cannot use its tap-to-pay feature.

Interestingly, Google has not listed South Africa among the regions supporting payments using Wear OS smartwatches.

However, none of the six countries receiving Google Pay contactless payment support today is listed yet.

Getting started with Google Pay

To use Google Pay, Android owners with supported devices must first download the Google Wallet app from the Google Play Store. The app stores your cards on the device.

Once opened, you must select “Payment card” under the “Add to Wallet” section and then choose “+ New credit or debit card”.

Follow the prompts to load your chosen bank card’s details to the app, after which you will have to verify it.

When making a payment, open the app and select the card you wish to use.

You can then tap your smartphone on any contactless-enabled payment terminal, just like you would with a contactless bank card.

For security, the payment must be authenticated using your fingerprint, facial recognition, or a PIN. Each transaction will also generate a one-time unique dynamic security code.

The app also lets you add membership, loyalty, or gift cards, as well as digital versions of flight boarding passes. In addition, there is support for digital car keys like those that come with the latest BMW models.

Overseas, you can also use Google Pay to pay for public transport.

Since Gautrain offers contactless-enabled payment terminals for its bus and train services that work with Apple Pay, it is expected that Google Pay should work.

Now read: South Africa’s entry-level bank accounts compared

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Google Pay launched in South Africa