Veronica With Four Eyes

Google Pay and Visual Impairment

During the first few weeks of my summer internship, there was an issue with my bank account that was out of my control that kept me from being able to use my physical debit or credit cards for a few days. While I waited for my new card to show up, one of the temporary solutions I came up with was to use Google Pay with another debit card so that I could pay for lunch at my internship and other small expenses until my new cards were activated. As frustrated as I was to not have access to my normal cards, I was thrilled to see how helpful Google Pay and digital wallets could be for someone with a visual impairment, and was surprised to learn that lots of my fellow visually impaired friends use digital wallet services such as Google Pay as well. Here are my tips for using Google Pay with visual impairment, based on my own experiences.

What is a digital wallet? What do they do?

To quote Wikipedia, “A digital wallet also known as “e-Wallet” refers to an electronic device or online service that allows an individual to make electronic transactions. This can include purchasing items on-line with a computer or using a smartphone to purchase something at a store.” Since I have a Google Pixel 2, I use Google Pay on my phone, though I also have visually impaired friends that use Apple Pay and Samsung Pay on their iPhone and Galaxy devices respectively.

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How it works

Adding a card

After adding a credit or debit card to their digital wallet app of choice, the application works behind the scenes to request a token to represent the card the user is trying to add from the bank that issued that card. Once the token is issued, this card is now “tokenized,” meaning it has a unique identification number associated with it- not the credit card number. The card is then encrypted and can be used for payments.

Making a purchase

To make a purchase, a customer taps their mobile device on a point-of-sale terminal or chooses to pay from within the app. The digital wallet platform responds with the customer’s tokenized card and a cryptogram which acts as a one-time-use password. The card network validates the cryptogram and matches the token with the customer’s actual card number to complete the transaction

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Places digital wallets are accepted

Some of the major retailers that accept digital wallets include:

  • McDonald’s
  • Walgreens
  • Giant supermarket (and partner stores)
  • Disney World
  • Target
  • Staples
  • Macy’s
  • Best Buy
  • And more!

Not all locations may accept Google Pay, so it’s worth checking your local store before leaving your credit card at home. In addition, many smaller businesses such as farmer’s markets and small retail stores have started accepting Google Pay and other digital wallets, so there are lots of interesting places out there where digital wallets can be used.

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How to set up Google Pay

Google Pay is fairly easy to set up, but may require a call to your bank depending on their security practices. Here is how to set up Google Pay:

  1. If needed, download the Google Pay app and make sure your phone is compatible. In order to use Google Pay, you will need a phone running Android Lollipop (5.0) or higher that has NFC, and that has NFC turned on.
  2. Open the Google Pay app and select the option to add a new card. You can either take a photo of it within the app, or enter the card info manually
  3. Add information such as your name and billing address
  4. Choose how you want to verify your card- I ended up calling my bank to verify it was me
  5. Add any other relevant information as instructed by the bank

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How to use Google Pay

Using Google Pay is incredibly simple if you’re at a place that supports paying with digital wallets. Here is how to use Google Pay at checkout:

  1. Make sure your phone’s NFC is turned on and open the Google Pay app
  2. Tap your phone against the card reader.
  3. If needed, enter a password or press your fingerprint for verification
  4. The phone will vibrate and display a “Payment Successful” message when it is finished processing

What I use it for

Some examples of places that I use Google Play or other digital wallet platforms include:

  • Cafeteria at my internship
  • Target and similar stores
  • Making secure online payments from retailers
  • Counter-serve restaurants
  • Any place that indicates that they accept Google Pay or similar services

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Why I prefer it over using my card

I frequently use Google Pay over my physical card at my summer internship because I carry my phone with me everywhere, and feel more comfortable tapping my phone against the card reader than I do when trying to insert my card into the card reader, something that I have trouble doing due to pain in my hands. I’m also much less likely to forget my phone when traveling compared to my wallet, and frequent lots of places that accept digital wallets without any extra fees or hassle.

In addition, I feel that I am more independent when paying with Google Pay, as I don’t have to ask someone to read a screen for me or help me with my card. I just have to tap my phone and it’s done.

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Summary of using Google Pay with visual impairment

  • A digital wallet is a tool that allows people to make electronic transactions, either online or at a physical store
  • Users can add their credit card to a digital wallet and use an app to make a purchase
  • To set up Google Pay, users will need to add their credit or debit card to the app, and may need to call their bank
  • To use Google Pay, tap the device against the credit card reader at a participating physical store
  • Google Pay can be used in many places, including restaurants, stores, and online


Google Pay and Visual Impairment. How and why I use Google Pay and similar digital wallet apps as an Android user with low vision, and how to set up Google Pay