An accidental foray into Android Pay

Pre-note: I’m not (just) doing photography any more. I’m PhD-ing it up at UCL, Museum Lighting/Colour etc. I’ll talk about that another time, and redesign this website to reflect. Mañana mañana…

I like most people am the proud owner of multiple pairs of trousers.

Therefore I would wager I’m not the first, nor will I be the last, to encounter the splendidly lovely first world problem that is having forgotten one’s wallet.

To set the scene, I’m stood at Tottenham Hale tube station, having cycled perhaps half an hour to get there. For reasons I won’t go into, today of all days I was not doing that again (twice). No chance. When my best friendly impression didn’t impress the the TFL chap enough for him to issue me with a permit to travel I was rather stuck. Until…


Bazinga. I’d heard a rumour that Android Pay was now a thing in the UK.
But surely I’d need a contactless card, and I’d need to actually have that card (on my person)?

Oh no no no, as it turns out, my phone doesn’t care diddly squat whether the card itself is contactless. And since Google owns my ass already it had no qualms whatsoever about just throwing my card details in there*

So, my first shot at contactlessing. I held my phone to the yellow disk of capitalism and waited. Nothing. The guy behind me didn’t care for my petty problems. I let him go through. ‘You’ve got to press it, activate the button mate’ said TFL-chap. ‘Ah OK I see’-me. I didn’t see. All the same, I unlocked the screen, tried again and BOOM. Those gates swung open like sea in front of Moses**. Fistpumps all around, TFL-chap who had written me off as a lost cause smiled. I felt invincible. I tweeted.

Other end, I acted cool, a trendy millennial*** and held my phone at the reader and waiting for it to do the magic. I had to step back, open the app and try again, rather knocked my cool that did. But it worked eventually. Goal. Mission: Commute, completed.

Now, I hadn’t had time for breakfast so it was time to try this magical gadget’s ability to buy me food, real actual food essentially coming out of my phone and feeling sort of free. LEON, let’s do this, I thought. Queue, no contactless. Bummer. Sainsburys, they’re big, they’ll have the latest tech and whatnot. No contactless. (Mental note: Sainsburys- I owe you a banana).

So far, one success, one not success.
At this point my phone was starting to drip juice like a watermelon on a hot day (it was getting low on battery) and so I succumbed to going to work****.

Work happened and then it was back to play time. Since work had happened, cake was required. Thank you British Museum for your overpriced unusually shaped tasty-oh-so-tasty cake. And your contactless card reader. You read right, the BM has contactless, joy oh dangerous joy. Two wins, one fail.

Next up. This baby was going to catch a bus. Oh yeah. I was getting to know the system now: it works best if you’re staring at the (unlocked) app screen with the crappy picture of your card on it. That seems to be good, and I think it worked! (Otherwise, mental note: TFL- I owe you a bus ride.) Let’s say 3, 1.

So I’m on a bus, feeling all smug (and starting to write this post) and then I have a thought, what happens if my phone dies before I head home (I was meeting a friend to go to a gig). Only time will tell…

Who will win, the magical technology or the cold hard logic that a dead phone is dead.

I’ll tweet to let you know.

*OK this is a smidge unfair on Google (I love you master). I probably clicked permissions somewhere one time, and today, I’m grateful. Plus I did have to remember the three numbers on the back that everyone calls something different. Which was easy, it’s… hannng on…that was close.
**I wonder if this manages to offend anyone?
*** You can now apparently be 34 and a millennial I found out recently. Feel like I’ve been cheated out of a level of demographic exclusivity there.
**** Imagine the riots mild dissatisfaction if for some reason workplaces stopped you being able to charge phones in a workplace. Scratch that, pretend I said nothing, I don’t want to give anyone ideas.


  • I added a link about Permits to Travel, thanks John.
  • I correeeceded the speeling.
  • I added the formatting and links in the * section, which like a doofus I’d previously neglected.