Google Testing 'Hands Free' Payment System on Android and iOS

Google today announced a pilot program for its "Hands Free" payment service, allowing customers in the southern part of the San Francisco Bay Area to pay for goods and services over Bluetooth using a photograph for confirmation.

Hands Free, as the name implies, is aimed at allowing people to make purchases without the need to pull out a phone or a wallet. It requires customers to create a profile (with photo) through the Hands Free app, available for both iOS and Android. When in a location that supports Hands Free payments, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and location services on the phone will communicate with the store's cash point-of-sale system.


When ready to make a payment, customers can say "I'll pay with Google," and the cashier will confirm the payment using the person's initials and the photo associated with the Hands Free app, both of which are displayed to the cashier on the cash register. In select locations, Google is also using a visual identification via an in-store camera to confirm identity based on the Hands Free profile picture.

As with Android Pay, Hands Free does not transmit full card details to retailers, and purchases made send notifications to the accompanying phone. Google says it sends alerts if any unusual activity is detected and suspicious transactions won't go through without approval.

Hands Free payment options are currently available at select locations in the South Bay, including McDonald's and Papa John's Pizza.

The Hands Free app for the iPhone can be downloaded from the App Store for free. [Direct Link]



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12 weeks ago

1984 is approaching us faster than expected.

Technically it's approaching much slower than expected since that year is now 32 years in the past.
Rating: 11 Votes
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12 weeks ago
And what's the secure part of this transaction for me if my phone gets stolen? I mean that picture of me will probably look like millions of other faces... Unlike a fingerprint!
Rating: 10 Votes
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12 weeks ago
Yea, as hard as it is to find stores that take ApplePay/NFC, and as poorly educated as most cashiers seem at the places that do take it, I'm not optimistic I'm going to be able to say "I'll pay with Google" to anyone and not just have them give me a blank stare back.
Rating: 8 Votes
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12 weeks ago
To which the cashier replies 'I will slap you now'
Rating: 4 Votes
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12 weeks ago

1984 is approaching us faster than expected.

First you pay as described above, then one day all payments go in the cloud and you don't need to have an app/card/wallet. The next step is that one day you don't have an app/card/wallet at all and you are paying everywhere just by approaching a cashier, where an automatic camera scans your face, finds you in the centralized cloud database and approves your payment.

But then one day you hear:
"Sorry, John, your payment was declined", or
"Your account is blocked", or
"We can't find you in the database.
Please contact federal authorities. They may have some questions".

This Google idea is evil.

As if freezing your accounts isn't something that already happens?
Rating: 3 Votes
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12 weeks ago

So when the crook goes to the Walmart their friend works at to buy that $1000 TV and says I'll pay with Google, and they ok the transaction. Who pays to cover the fraud. I would much rather maintain control of the authority to process a transaction.

Walmart covers the fraud because it was done by their employee. Fires and has cashier arrested. Cashier turns on their friend. It'll all be on video anyway. Fraud would be handled no differently than it has always been handled.
Rating: 3 Votes
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12 weeks ago
Pay with Watch is pretty easy and seamless.
Rating: 3 Votes
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12 weeks ago

And what's the secure part of this transaction for me if my phone gets stolen? I mean that picture of me will probably look like millions of other faces... Unlike a fingerprint!


What's the secure part if your wallet with credit cards gets stolen? It's no different a situation, and possibly even a better situation, since at least there's a chance a cashier will notice a photo discrepancy and ask for other id.

And it shares the same glaring insecurity hole as an unverifiable signature: a busy, overworked cashier who just hits 'yes' for both answers without even looking properly.


Both of you totally miss the point. It's no less authenticated, and can be more authenticated when buying high dollar items (because the cashier is far more likely to check the photo), than the current US method of using a credit card with NO id verification at all.

This whole "security" thing is blown out of proportion anyway. In the US, we're protected from liability as long as we report a stolen card within a few days. Convenience is much more on the minds of most people.

TL;DR - it's no different than using a credit card the way we do now, except that it's hands free and the cashier also sees the registered photo for that card.
Rating: 2 Votes
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12 weeks ago
This feels like what Steve would have done and he would have made fun of the fact other competitors make you take your phone out. I'm jealous. I have to agree about security concerns or accidentally accepting my phone rather than a friend next to me but they'll figure out how to solve that. Hands-free is awesome.
Rating: 2 Votes
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12 weeks ago
Maybe it's just me, but this seems to be trying to reinvent the wheel.

Mistaken identity is quite common. I have been called Chris Cornell in my high school days and Paul Jr in my 20s. Apparently I could pass for Duff Goldman in recent years. My point is, the human error factor would seem to be way high on this.

While the transaction may be secure, the servers are begging to be hacked.

My $.02 there's too many possible issues.
Rating: 2 Votes
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