Google Pay is in Switzerland, just probably not for you

Google Pay is in Switzerland, just probably not for you

Dominik Bärlocher
Zurich, on 30.04.2019
Support: Manuel Wenk
Translation: Patrik Stainbrook
Google’s jumping into the battle for mobile payment. The search-giant isn’t the only company wanting to prove themselves in the Swiss market, but their start wasn’t the hottest.

As of today, Google Pay is available in Switzerland. I’m afraid you won’t get a lot of use out of it, however, as only these Swiss financial institutions are currently working with it.

  • Cornercard.
  • Bonuscard, one of Cornercard’s sister services.
  • Swiss Bankers, a credit card company whose shareholders include the cantonal banks, Credit Suisse, Entris, Raiffeisen and PostFinance.
  • Revolut, a company started in 2015 whose main goal is to revolutionise money transfer.
  • Boon, a mobile payment service.

But just because some big banks are missing from this list doesn’t mean your credit card will work with Google Pay.

The app: a really close look

Google Pay is the mobile payment service offered by the American search-conglomerate. If you know Twint, then you basically know how Google Pay works. You can use Google Pay at various terminals throughout Switzerland and pay your purchases via NFC. The bill gets sent to your credit card, which means you won’t even need your wallet on you. The big difference between this and other services such as TWINT, etc., is that, aside from Apple Pay, this is the only service like this that’s made by the same company that makes your phone’s software. Another is the extremely limited support in Switzerland.

Google Pay’s home screen.
Google Pay’s home screen.

The app carries the distinct, clean Google look. A lot of white, a lot of empty space. I like this. Settings as well as interaction are kept at a bare minimum. You can see your cards, what you bought and that’s pretty much it.

Currently, only the Las Vegas Monorail and Melbourne’s Myki support the ticket option.
Currently, only the Las Vegas Monorail and Melbourne’s Myki support the ticket option.

The only interesting detail: There’s a tab that allows you to deposit tickets for public services. Currently, however, this service is limited to the Las Vegas Monorail and Myki in Melbourne. Both use a «pay as you go» procedure. Let’s say you charge 20 dollars to your ticket. You then scan your ticket every time you use the train, and the turnstile will let you pass as long as you have enough credit. This won’t apply to Switzerland, as our stations and ticketing systems work differently, but this can still be very useful for commuters. London’s Oyster Card works under the same model. Other European systems do as well. Connecting these to Google Pay is definitely possible, and its direct connection to the credit cards attached to your Google account is a big plus for the end user.

Google Pay doesn’t just work for your phone. Smartwatches are encouraging mobile solutions, as simply tapping your wrist against a terminal is much simpler than having to wrestle with your phone or wallet. Swatch announced its Bellamy series a few day ago, allowing you to pay from your wrist. Samsung’s smartwatches run Samsung Pay, Garmin uses Garmin Pay and all smartwatches running WearOS are connected to Google Pay as long as they support NFC. Google Pay also has a web end, allowing for user options.

Google Pay’s web end.
Google Pay’s web end.

The battle for supremacy

To most Swiss people, paying with your mobile devices is still relatively unknown. V Pay, Visa’s contactless payment service, has just started widespread adoption. This allows you contactless payment up to 40 francs. But the discussion and fight for the throne of mobile payment is still to come.

Smartwatches coupled with smartphones shall one day replace wallets.
Smartwatches coupled with smartphones shall one day replace wallets.

Swiss banks are working hard towards this, however. Credit Suisse supports Samsung and Apple Pay as of today. Other services are currently being evaluated.

PayPal: the saving grace?

Many German banks also haven’t been rushing to adopt these services. The following financial institutions and credit cards are supported there:

  • Boon
  • Comdirect
  • Commerzbank
  • N26
  • BW-Bank
  • Revolut
  • Bunq
  • Openbank

But even if the banks won’t support it, Google Pay is still connected to a service in Germany that will definitely make these established titans obsolete: Paypal. Across the border, paying with Google Pay via PayPal is possible. If you register your credit card as «pay as you go» in PayPal, then any bank will support it. That’s proxy for you.

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Dominik Bärlocher
Dominik Bärlocher
Senior Editor, Zurich
Journalist. Author. Hacker. A storyteller searching for boundaries, secrets and taboos – putting the world to paper. Not because I can but because I can’t not.

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