The world of mobile payments just got a little bigger: On Monday, Google launched its latest tool that lets consumers pay for online goods.
First announced in May at its I/O developer conference, “Pay With Google” aims to bring together the search giant’s various payment methods covering Google Wallet, Android Pay and any credit or debit card credentials stored in the Chrome web browser, YouTube or Google Play. The new feature was designed for shoppers without Android Pay accounts, giving them an easier way to buy things through Android apps without having to type out credit card numbers repeatedly.
“Starting today you can now speed through online checkout on many of your favorite apps and web sites with a few quick clicks,” wrote Pali Bhat, vice president of product management, payments, in a Google blog post. Pay With Google won’t charge transaction fees for purchases either.
Mobile payments generally tie into three main scenarios: Online purchases, paying at bricks-and-mortar retailers and conducting “peer-to-peer” transactions between friends or other personal contacts. Google’s two-year-old Android Pay, with its ability to save reward cards, addresses shopping and service payments through Android apps and Chrome, as well as transactions at real-world cash registers. Google Wallet supported online shopping as well, plus peer-to-peer payments.
Users who bounce between payment tools for different situations may appreciate the attempt to streamline things. Or they might find the new name in a sprawling roster of Google payment options to be a confusing addition. But that could be a necessary risk, if the company sees Pay with Google as an enhancement to its increasingly crucial Google Assistant.
In a May Google AdWords blog post, Sridhar Ramaswamy, senior vice president of ads and commerce, explained, “[Users will] be able to use these saved payment options in third-party apps and mobile sites as well as on Google Assistant when they are on-the-go.”
At Google I/O 2017, Gerardo Capiel, product management director for consumer payments, demonstrated how the system would work in a Panera Bread demo: “The user simply says, ‘I want to talk to Panera,’” he explained. “They specify what they want to order — Panera might even suggest some drinks they might want to go with that order — and then the user is able to complete that transaction using the cards in their Google Account and authenticate with their fingerprint.”
There’s some overlap with Google Assistant’s existing shop-by-voice feature, which hooks into yet another tool: Users can summon Google Express on-demand delivery through Google Home devices. Both interactions start with a vocal command, but the Pay with Google mobile experience ends with a physical security interaction to authenticate or log in. (Google Home users say “yes” to confirm a product choice.) Wal-Mart recently inked a deal to support Google Express, in an effort to beat back Amazon.
According to Allied Market Research, mobile payments are expected to reach $3.4 billion in annual revenue by 2022. With this latest effort, Google now has a tool for practically every Android shopping scenario. But if it hopes to compete, it will need to reduce the complexity of its current plethora of context-specific options and unite them with one universal service. Modern shoppers are growing accustomed to the simplicity of Amazon’s Alexa voice shopping, Apple Pay’s single wallet premise or brand-specific Samsung Pay and its coverage for Galaxy devices.
At launch, Pay with Google works with about 15 Android retail or on-demand apps such as Kayak, Postmates, Yelp Eat24 and Instacart. In the future, more options will roll out covering Airbnb, Caviar, Papa John’s Pizza and others.