As Apple Payments Strategy Takes Shape, Google and Square Respond

Apple rattled tech rivals like Google last year when it entered brick-and-mortar retail with Apple Pay, which lets people use their iPhone to pay for goods in stores. Now Google, which has long offered a similar product for Android phones that hasn’t become widely used, and Square, which helps small businesses accept credit card payments, are searching for new ways to insert themselves into the retail value chain.

Google last fall began testing a service called “Plaso” that allows people carrying Android phones to pay at retailers like Papa John’s and Panera Bread by saying their initials to employees at the cash register, according to four people who have been involved in or briefed about it.

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It’s unclear whether the new all-in-one tablet will see the light of day. It’s being overseen by Jesse Dorogusker, Square’s hardware lead who designed the Square credit-card reader and was at Apple before that. Getting retailers to adopt any new point-of-sale technology, from Square or anyone else, remains a major challenge. To get a foot in the door, Square has discussed subsidizing the hardware for small business owners.

A Square spokesman declined to comment. A Google spokesman did not comment.

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Apple’s technology has many advantages over Google’s; it could be expanded to allow the iPhone and the upcoming Apple Watch to be used to enter public transit systems and secured buildings.