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Google Testing Hands Free Mobile Payments

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Mar 2, 2016, 11:38 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   @phonescooper

Google today announced a new pilot program that will allow people to pay for goods and services without taking their phone out of their pocket. Hands Free Payments relies on location data, WiFi, Bluetooth beacons, and other sensors to detect nearby participating stores. Users need only say "I'll pay with Google" to the cashier, who confirms shoppers' identity with their initials and profile photo. Google is also testing in-store, camera-based visual identification methods for automatic verification. Google says all images captured by the Hands Free in-store camera are deleted as soon as the transaction concludes and cannot be accessed by the retailer nor even Google. Hands Free does not share full credit card numbers with the retailer and stores payment details securely. Transactions can only be completed when the phone is in or near the store. The service provides instant notifications after every purchase for verification, and can alert users to unusual activity. Transactions deemed suspicious won't be approved. The Hands Free app can be used on any Android device running 4.2 Jelly Bean and up, and the iPhone 4s and up. An Android Pay account is not required, but Android Pay users can associate the same credit/debit card with their Hands Free account if they wish. Hands Free Payments are being tested in a very limited pilot program in the South Bay, near Google's Mountain View, Calif., headquarters. McDonalds and Papa Johns are participating in the pilot, along with some local retailers. Google didn't say how long the pilot will last, nor when it might expand to other retailers and regions. The Hands Free app is free to download from the Google Play Store and iTunes App Store.

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