December 1, 2020
Google is relaunching its Google Pay digital wallet and online payment system for Android and iOS with a raft of new features including the ability to connect to the user’s bank account for a searchable overview of finances. The company also plans to partner with banks in 2021 to offer its Plex, an online checking and savings account within the app. This more fully-featured Google Pay can now serve as a direct competitor to Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, PayPal, Venmo and other apps and services, as well as an online bank such as Ally.
The Verge reports that, since “all of the advanced features are opt in,” the user can continue to use Google Pay as it currently exists. The new features, however, are “likely to raise privacy concerns” although Google stated “it has a policy to not sell or share data to third parties” and that it will not “share your transaction history with the rest of Google for targeting ads.”
Nonetheless, “Google’s servers will have access to your data so it can be analyzed and made searchable for you in the app — though the company assures that it’ll be strongly encrypted.”
Google Pay’s primary tab will “give a chat-like view of your transactions,” associating loyalty and rewards cards with purchases at those stores. It will continue to allow Android users to make payments via NFC tap-to-pay but, “underneath People and Businesses,” the user can also tap the buttons “Get gas” and “Order food.”
Google said the gas option “should work in 30,000 locations” of gas stations and parking lots. For food, the button “ties into Google’s existing food ordering system that is compatible with enough systems for the company to claim it works with over 100,000 restaurants.”
Explore is Google Pay’s “first truly new tab,” showing an array of deals that can be accessed by tapping “activate,” and associating the offer with any credit card stored in Google Pay. Explore also has a QR and barcode scanner, which enables a shopper to “scan a product and automatically launch a Google Shopping search for it to buy it elsewhere.” It also allows users to send money to each other by scanning each other’s personal barcodes.
Insight, the tab on the far right, will search using natural language; the user can “also chain searches together to narrow down to what you’re looking for.” By tapping the blue icons at the top of the Insights screen, the user will “get brief summaries of financial information Google Pay thinks might be useful for you, like upcoming bills, how much money you’ve sent directly to friends, large transactions, and so on.”
Although not as “full featured as some of the apps it’s designed to compete with … it seems Google is betting the convenience of having everything in one place will be more than enough.”
In 2021, Google will also launch Plex, its banking service that will let “some banks use Google Pay as their banking app.” According to The Verge, “Google has lined up 11 banks and credit unions to partner with … [and] the checking and savings accounts will have no monthly fees, overdraft charges, or minimum balances.”
Google Pay’s Old Apps and Website to Lose Payment Features in the U.S. in January, The Verge, 11/25/20
The Payments King Is Dead. Long Live the New King, Forbes, 11/24/20
New Google Pay Kills Peer-to-Peer Payments on the Web in January, Adds Transfer Fee, 9to5Google, 11/23/20