Google’s big push in India: Rebranded Google Pay to soon bring UPI capability to Gmail, apps

By: | Published: August 29, 2018 11:51 AM

Alphabet Inc's Google on Tuesday announced that it will say goodbye to Tez - an account-to-account payment platform which it had launched in India last year to enable transactions using UPI.

Caesar Sengupta announced that the platform would be rebranded as Google Pay – its global payments product. (Source: Twitter)

Alphabet Inc’s Google on Tuesday announced that it will say goodbye to Tez – an account-to-account payment platform which it had launched in India last year to enable transactions using UPI. The app named Tez (meaning fast in Hindi) was launched in the country as the tech giant sought to gain a foothold in the South Asian nation’s digital payments space which, according to Credit Suisse, will grow five-fold to $1 trillion by 2023.

At an annual Google event in New Delhi on Tuesday, Google VP (product management) and head of Next Billion Users initiative and its Payments, Caesar Sengupta announced that the platform would be rebranded as Google Pay – its global payments product. By bringing UPI capability under Google Pay, the company will allow users to access it across all its apps. This means that users will be able to send money within emails and make purchases in its online store.

Sengupta told TOI that payment is an important function of email and Google aims to bring that experience to India users. “We feel that payment is a core functionality the way email or storage is, which come with every Google account. In some countries, we have a feature in Gmail where you can send money. Those are examples of some of the features we are looking at bringing to Google Pay users in India,” he said.

Google also announced that it is partnering with four Indian banks — Federal Bank, HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank and Kotak Mahindra Bank — to provide instant loans to the app’s users.

“We’re talking to a lot of banks, we’re completely open with who we work with in terms of banking partners,” Sengupta said. He added that banks bring their financial capabilities, their understanding of the user and their customers while Google will add its user experience and ability to make complex processes extremely simple and very fast.

The search giant’s latest push will pose a massive challenge for homegrown Paytm, backed by Japan’s SoftBank and China’s Alibaba and U.S. conglomerate Berkshire Hathaway. Founded by Vijay Shekhar Sharma, Paytm currently runs a payments bank in India and also plans to expand to selling financial products such as insurance and mutual funds.

However, Sengupta said that Google is open to collaborating with other Indian payments firms. He said they are huge fans of interoperability and when a product like Tez does well, it creates more value in the network for everyone. The platform has over 22 million monthly active users, according to Google.

The company also hopes the KaiOS – a low-cost phone operating system in which it invested $22 million – will do well in Africa and parts of South East Asia. Among others, Jio Phone launched by Mukesh Ambani last year also runs on KaiOS.

“Countries like India, which are mobile first have so many people coming online for the first time, just generate an incredible amount of opportunity for innovation,” Sengupta said.

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