​Australian banks back Android Pay launch

Google has announced that Android Pay will land in Australia in 2016, and will support MasterCard and Visa credit and debit cards.

Google is partnering with some of Australia's largest financial institutions -- ANZ, Westpac, St George, Bank of Melbourne, Bank of South Australia, Bendigo Bank, Cuscal, ING Direct, and Macquarie Bank -- to bring Android Pay to cardholders in 2016.

Google announced in a blog post that in the first half of 2016, Android Pay will support MasterCard and Visa credit and debit cards, and the company is working with Eftpos to support its cards, too.

The company said it has also partnered with payment providers such as Braintree, eWay, First Data, and Stripe to ensure stores can accept Android Pay.

Android Pay will allow customers of participating financial institutions to use their smartphone running on Android 4.4 or higher to pay at checkouts by simply unlocking their phone and holding it to a terminal that accepts contactless payments. The transaction works using near-field communications technology.

Google has assured that for security purposes, a user's credit or debit card number will never be shared with the merchant. Instead, once a purchase is made, a payment confirmation will show up onscreen to show that a transaction has occurred. Additionally, users will be able to lock their device through their Android Device Manager if their phone is ever lost or stolen.

7-Eleven, Coles Express, Coles Supermarkets, Domino's Pizza, Donut King, and McDonald's are among a handful of retailers that will support the launch of Android Pay in Australia.

According to Google, Android Pay will also allow in-app payments and storing gift cards, loyalty cards, and special offers. At launch, the company said participating apps include Catch of the Day, EatNow, GoCatch, Kogan.com, Menulog, OzSale, and The Iconic.

Android Pay is the newer version of Google Wallet, which was launched in the United States in September. Google Wallet, however, never arrived in Australia, even though it has been available in the United States since late 2011.

The release of Android Pay in Australia will see it contend with rival Apple Pay, which was launched last month -- but only with American Express as a participating financial institution.

Google also announced the launch of Night Light, the newest feature of the Google Play Books app that is available on Android and iOS. According to Google, the feature will help make reading easier on the eyes, as it has been designed to gradually filter blue light from the screen, replacing it with a warm, amber light as the sun sets. It will also automatically adapt to the amount of natural sunlight outside based on time of day.