Google is turning the Google Assistant into a personal bank teller for sending and receiving payments, potentially lighting a fire underneath Venmo and Square Cash. Set to roll out as an update over the next few months, it’ll allow for direct person-to-person transactions, like when you need to settle up a split check for dinner. The news comes as Google expands Android Pay to a number of new markets.
Android Pay is currently available in ten markets, but has announced that Brazil, Canada, Russia, Spain, and Taiwan are all coming soon. Freshly revealed at Google I/O 2017 this week is the new Google Payment API, meanwhile. That will allow Android app developers to integrate payments through any verified credit or debit card saved to a Google account. The API will also support payments through webpages.
As the I/O demo showed, actually completing a payment through that process on the user-side becomes just a few simple taps. Rather than having to punch in credit card details and your billing address, you can choose the card from a list of saved options, and then enter a security code or authenticate the purchase with your Android phone. Early access to the Google Payment API is open for developers now.
However, for individual users, it’s the direct payments system that’s probably going to be of more interest. Built on top of the Google Assistant, it allows payments to be sent by spoken or typed command. So, you can say “Ok Google, send $20 to Paul for gin” and it’ll process the direct transaction, billing it to your debit card. Indeed, you’ll be able to do it completely hands-free if you have an Android phone with the “Ok Google” wakeword set up, or a Google Home.
Individual transactions have been a growing area of interest over the past few years, for tech companies hoping to usurp the cash in your wallet. PayPal’s Venmo service explicitly targeted cash-avoiding Millennials when it launched, while Square Cash followed the company’s merchant payment system with a direct payments option within its app. With the spread of the Google Assistant across so many platforms – including a new version for iPhone, released this week – Google’s ubiquity might be its biggest advantage, however.
Yesterday, indeed, Google announced a whole brace of new payments options within the Assistant. That includes more streamlined ordering and purchase options, no need to set up an account with the merchant themselves, and more.