Google confirmed it’s now running a limited promotion in the U.S. dubbed “Tap 10,” which is aimed at increasing usage of its Android Pay mobile payments service, a rival to Apple Pay and others. Some Android users are being gifted rewards like a free Chromecast or free songs, movies, or subscriptions on Google Play in exchange for using Android Pay at local stores.
The name “Tap 10,” meanwhile, refers to the promotion’s goal of getting users to make 10 such mobile payments before the promo wraps up, which will be at the end of next month.
A number of Android blogs recently reported on the promotion’s existence, citing tip-offs from readers, or pointing to the program’s terms, including sites like Android Police, Android Central, Android Authority, and more.
A spokesperson for Google says the company did not make a formal announcement about the new program because it’s a “small program currently being tested with a limited set of users.”
That backs up what the blogs were claiming – that only some users were seeing the invitation to participate in Tap 10. What wasn’t clear, however, was how these users were being chosen. We understand now that there isn’t any formal criteria involved – the testers are being picked at random.
In other words, instead of being the early stages of a larger rollout of an Android Pay promotion, this is a more limited test aiming to determine if offering rewards will actually translate into increased Android Pay usage. That being said, Google does hope that it will be able to offer more promotions like this in the future.
The problem that Google faces, as well as Apple for that matter, or any mobile payments provider, is not just one of availability of point-of-sale terminals that accept NFC-based (aka tap-to-pay) payments. Today, a good number of retailers accept NFC payments, and many are listed as specifically supporting Android Pay, including names like Babies R Us, BJs, Bloomingdales, Disney Store, Duane Reade, Express, GameStop, Foot Locker, Macy’s, McDonald’s, Office Depot and others.
Google says that Android Pay is now accepted at over a million stores across the U.S., in addition to mobile applications.
However, it’s challenging to change deeply-ingrained consumer behavior at point-of-sale. After years of swiping, it’s hard to make a shift to tapping – not that tapping is difficult, but because old habits are hard to break.
For example, a year after Apple Pay’s launch, studies have indicated that usage has declined. iPhone 6 users who say they used Apple Pay “every chance” they get fell from 48 percent in March 2015 to 33 percent in June, said one report. And those who said they “rarely” considered using Apple Pay grew from 17 percent to 23 percent at the same time.
To some extent, the decline could be contributed to spotty acceptance; while there are a growing number of supported terminals in the U.S., tap-to-pay isn’t available everywhere the way swiping is today. But consumers said their top reason for not using the mobile payment option was simply because they “forgot.”
While that study examined Apple Pay one year in, the same sentiments and issues are likely shared by Android users. And that’s what Google is hoping to change with the Android Pay “Tap 10” promotion.
To create a new habit, however, it will take more than 10 taps (it may take many months, in fact) – but at the very least, just remembering that there’s a chance to win could help some Android Pay users not “forget” that tapping to pay is an option.
This isn’t the first time Google has linked Android Pay with a program aimed at boosting usage. Over the holidays, Google ran a promotion which saw the company donating to charity for each Android Pay purchase.