Let’s face it: 2016 was a depressing year. David Bowie. Brexit. Harambe. But it isn’t over yet, and Google is shining a light into the dark abyss with a new gift-giving promotion. On Tuesday, the search giant announced “Shop, Tap, Reward,” a rewards program that will see Android Pay users in the United Kingdom gifted virtual Christmas crackers — paper goodie bags that explode in confetti when torn apart — every time they use Android Pay at a U.K. store or on the Transport for London network.
From now until the end of the year, permanent and temporary residents of the British Isles will receive digital gifts every time they “tap to pay” with Android Pay on at least five separate occasions. Every purchase will earn them a chance to win one of over 100,000 varieties of gift cards including a Costa Coffee voucher (10 British pounds, or $12.72), a pair of tickets for ODEON Cinemas, a 500-pound ($635.88) House of Fraser card or a 500-pound Currys PC World gift card. And in addition, each tap will generate virtual coins that can be redeemed for a free 3-pound ($3.82) Costa Coffee gift card.
Accompanying the contest are a collection of “celebratory” Android Pay animations featuring Android’s mascot, Bugdroid. When you tap to pay, you’ll see Bugdroid in a snowglobe, or skiing about a frozen lake, or popping out of a wrapped package, or rendered in gingerbread.
And those aren’t the only gifts Google’s giving this season. This past week, Google rolled out two features for frequent London Tube riders: incomplete journey notifications and daily travel summary. The former notifies riders if they forget to tap in or out at any station so they can request a refund from the Transport for London website. The latter tracks station names and bus numbers and attaches a summary of riders’ daily journeys to their Transport for London transactions.
In related news, ride-hailing app Uber’s joining the Android Pay family. Starting today, Uber riders in the U.K. will see the option to pay with Android Pay. And as part of a limited-time promotion, users’ next 10 rides (up to 5 pounds per ride) will be discounted up to 50 percent off when they use Android Pay.
“Android Pay … is becoming one of the U.K.’s favorite ways to shop since its launch this past May,” Pali Bhat, Global Head of Payment Products at Google, wrote in a blog post. “Adoption of Android Pay is growing rapidly as people are tapping on the Tube, in stores, and in their favorite apps.”
That’s no exaggeration. According to the UK Cards Association, more than one in five card payments are now made using a contactless card or device. The number of contactless transactions increased from 89 million in August 2015 to 260.7 million in August 2016. And customers are spending more on contactless transactions: the average transaction was 8.97 pounds ($11.41) this year, compared to 7.12 pounds ($9.05) in 2015.
That bodes well for Android Pay, which is now available in seven countries including the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Poland, and New Zealand.