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Google Wallet requiring device unlocks for every tap to pay transaction

1 month ago 27

In recent days, some Google Wallet users have noticed that they’re being prompted to always unlock their Android phone for tap to pay regardless of the transaction amount.

In some countries, you don’t need to unlock your device for “smaller payments.” For example, there’s a €25 threshold in Belgium, €30 in France, or €50 in Germany. It varies by country and issuer, while “you can only make a limited number of locked transactions before your phone asks you to unlock it.” 

In the US and other countries, “Unlock is required for all transactions except for transit,” though I’ve found that Android isn’t as stringent as iOS. On the iPhone, you have to authenticate every payment session, while recent unlocks work for Google Wallet. (For example, if you kept your phone unlocked to scan your in-app supermarket QR code, you won’t have to re-authenticate when you tap to pay a minute or two later.)

Around February of this year, the related Google Wallet support article added a notice: “Coming soon, your credit and debit card won’t be charged for retail payments unless you’ve recently used a verification method, like your fingerprint or PIN. Some users may already need to verify to make a payment. If you’re asked to verify it’s you, complete verification steps on your device to make a payment.”

In recent days, European users have begun to notice this change. Every transaction, regardless of amount, requires an unlock. This is arguably an improved security posture, and it’s better to be safe than sorry with payments. That said, people are finding this changed behavior to be overly disruptive and will take some time getting used to.

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