Google moves big into mobile payments in Asia with launch of new app


Image: google tez/screenshot

Google is going big into Asia’s mobile payment scene.

The tech giant has launched a new mobile money app called Tez in India — a country with a smartphone user base of over 300 million, which has been named the world’s fastest growing smartphone market.

“Tez” which means fast in Hindi, lets users link up their bank accounts to their phones, allowing them to use the app to pay merchants in stores, and instantly transfer money to friends.

Google’s app isn’t just another of the many mobile payment apps out there. To make Tez count, Google made sure it worked with India’s national Unified Payments Interface (UPI), a payment system backed by the government and 19 major banks in the country.

Image: google tez/screenshot

That’s huge. With the support of huge banks, that ensures Tez will work for the vast majority of users in India, allowing them to transfer money to each other regardless of bank provider they’re with.

And unlike mobile wallet systems, users can skip the additional step of managing a separate wallet fund, and transfer money to and from their accounts directly.

To sign up for Tez, you simply key in your phone number, choose your bank, and the bank will verify your number with an SMS.

To send money to another user, you then enter in their UPI ID, or select their phone number from your contacts list, if they’re also using Tez.

Ping cash to a nearby friend

But if you don’t want to share private details like your bank account or phone number, Tez has got another trick up its sleeve.

Its “cash mode” option offers proximity-based transfer, and searches for another smartphone nearby with the Tez app. You can then send or receive money from whoever’s beside you.

However, there’s a limit of $1,560 (₹1,00,000) on money transfers in one day.

Half of India has bank accounts, but only 2 percent has credit cards

It’s a strategic move by Google to let Tez users link up their phones to their bank accounts, unlike apps like Apple Pay, which links to a user’s credit or debit card.

India has a low credit card penetration of 29.8 million cards — which equals to around just 2 percent of the population.

On the other hand, an estimated 53 percent of the country’s population has bank accounts.

But Google might have some competition soon.

Messaging app WhatsApp is in talks to launch its own payment app in India, which will also be run on a UPI framework.

Tez is available on both Android and iOS.

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