Google is testing a payments platform that sounds painfully awkward

Eric schmidtREUTERS/Rebecca NadenGoogle Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt speaks about the connected world, at the Hay Festival, in Hay-on-Wye, central Wales May 25, 2013.

Google is working on a new payments service to counter Apple Pay’s breakout success, according to The Information.

Plaso (pronounced “play-so,”), as it’s being called by Google employees, is being tested at Papa Johns and Panera Bread.

It sounds really awkward to use.

You have to say your initials to the cashier to make a purchase.

Plaso uses an app on Google-issued Android phones that alerts retailers when there’s someone in the store that can pay with it.

Your initials show up on the app, which is how the retailer verifies your identity (unless you had someone else’s phone and lied; it’s unclear if Plaso has other security measures). The Information says people will need Android phones to use Plaso, which could be integrated with Google Wallet.

But it seems like people might feel uncomfortable uttering the equivalent of “open sesame” to buy things.

There’s no risk of accidentally spitting on your cashier with Apple Pay.

Plaso is only being used by Google employees right now. Google may chose never to release it to the public. But so long as it relies on a voice password, Google will have a hard time trumping Apple Pay’s convenience.

Meanwhile, yesterday Apple CEO Tim Cook said that 80% of mobile transactions at Panera are already using Apple Pay. So Google has some catching up to do.

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