Forget Contactless, Hands Free Payments Are The Future*

Google is now trialling an app which enables “hands free” payments, allowing users to leave their wallets and phones in their pockets at the checkout.


A small trial has begun in San Francisco to see how this new technology works. The Hands Free app uses Bluetooth low energy, WiFi, location services, and other sensors on your phone to detect whether you are near a participating store. This enables you to pay hands-free, without fumbling with your phone or opening the Hands Free app. When at the checkout in a participating store (including a few McDonalds restaurants), users with the Hands Free Android or iOS app simply have to say “I’ll pay with Google”.

The cashier will then check their initials and their picture from their profile to confirm their identity (or in some stores, a camera will take their picture and verify it against their Hands Free profile picture).

The extra verification of the user’s identity make this process more cumbersome than it should be, given that the aim of going hands free is likely to be to reduce payment friction, so it’ll be interesting to see if anything comes from this trial, or whether hands free payments disappears without a trace.

Here’s Google’s promo video for hands free payments:

Hands free app iPhone Screenshots


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* They’re probably not.

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