Google is working on a mobile payments service that makes Apple Pay look feeble

Larry PageAP Photo/Seth WenigGoogle CEO Larry Page speaks at a news conference at the Google offices in New York, Monday, May 21, 2012.

Google is already working on a new mobile payments service.

The company announced that it was going to start testing completely “hands-free” payments in a session on Android Pay at Google’s I/O conference yesterday, Ars Technica reported.

There are some situations where even getting your phone out of your pocket to pay is just a pain — when you’re heading through a drive-through, or just have your hands full.

Google head of payments Sridhar Ramaswamy showed the crowd a video where a woman reaches the counter at McDonalds, holding a baby. Rather than juggle both the child and her phone or wallet, she tells the cashier that she’d “like to pay with Google”. The cashier then processes her order, without any visible payment act or device passing between them.

While details of the project are still pretty sparse, we’ve seen other companies — and Google — experiment with hands-free payments in the past.

Square introduced hands-free payments to its digital wallet app back in 2011, which has since been shut down. Participating stores had virtual, geo-fence perimeters set up around their stores using GPS, so Square’s app could sense when it was nearby and open up. Customers had to have a picture of themselves loaded onto the app, and this would pop up on the cashier’s iPad when they went to pay. If the name and picture matched, the cashier would be able to take the payment from the payment card stored with Square’s app, and the customer would leave with their order.

PayPal also released the Beacon in 2013, which used bluetooth to let customers using its payments app to automatically check-in and pay without getting out their phone, too.

Earlier this year Google employees started testing a similar hands-free service called Plaso, where they had to say their initials to a cashier to verify the transaction. Before the company announced Android Pay, it was thought this might become part of Google Wallet. Now, it seems that Google has done away with the awkward initial verification, but has yet to establish what will be used instead.

Security is going to be a big deal for this sort of payment method.

“When you make a purchase, your full card details will not be shared with stores,” Ramaswamy said. “Once you complete a purchase, you’ll receive an instant notification right on your phone.”

It may be that the hands free-service will use tokenization to replace card numbers with a temporary one for each transaction, like Apple Pay and Android Pay.

The project is going to be tested in partnership with McDonalds and Papa Johns stores in the San Francisco Bay Area later this year.

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