Ready to pay with your voice?


Are you ready to pay at the cash register with your voice?

Mobile payments, despite massive hype, have yet to take off. In fact, they haven’t even reached 1% of total retail sales yet. That number isn’t expected to be hit until 2019, according toForrester Research.

So this week Google introduced a new, potentially simpler way to get folks to ditch their credit cards at the register. With Handsfree, a new app, you can pay with the phone but without reaching for your Android handset or iPhone.

Handsfree is a new app, being tested in San Francisco at a handful of McDonald’s and Papa John’s Pizza locations, that lets you approach the cash register and simply say, “I’ll pay with Google.”

A combination of bluetooth, Wi-Fi, phone sensors and in-store cameras connects the phone in your pocket or purse with the cash register. The retail security camera matches your image with the selfie you uploaded to the app for confirmation.

There’s a lot for the phone to get right? Can it pull it off? What if the restaurant is really busy–can all the technology hear your voice correctly amidst all the other people talking?

We hashed out the positives and negatives of Google’s new try for mobile pay on this week’s edition of the Talking Tech Roundtable podcast. We also reviewed AT&T’s new outreach to cord cutters and Facebook’s push for live video.

Apple launched Apple Pay in 2014 with a huge splash, looking to save consumers time fumbling through their pockets and purses and instead pay with the device that’s already in their hands–an iPhone or Apple Watch at retail. Apple says Pay is in over 1 million stores, including Whole Foods, Walgreen’s, McDonald’s, Best Buy and Staples.

Google launched Google Pay even earlier, in 2011, but was hampered by only being available on a few phones. In 2015, Google tried again, with a new system, Android Pay, which is also a distant no. 2 to Apple, says Forrester Research analyst Sucharita Mulpuru.

Samsung is also trying with its own mobile payments system.

Mobile pay has yet to take off because “it’s trying to solve something that’s not really a problem,” says Mulpuru.“It’s pretty easy and reliable to swipe a credit card. I don’t know that voice is any better than the current solutions.”


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