Google chases businesses to maintain its payments lead in India

Google said today it is bringing its mobile payments app — Google Pay — to businesses in India as the Android-maker rushes to maintain its payments lead in one of its key overseas markets before its global rival Facebook sets off a similar play in the nation.

Even as more than 400 million users in India are online today, most businesses in the nation remain unconnected, Google executives said at their annual event in New Delhi. Google, which has previously launched a handful of tools in India to help businesses build some presence on the web, is having another crack at it.

The company today unveiled Google Pay for Business, a standalone app that will enable businesses to accept online payments without doing much work.

The company also unveiled a software platform called Spot that will allow businesses to easily create their own branded commercial fronts that will be accessible to customers through Google Pay app. The company said several businesses in India like UrbanClap, Goibibo, MakeMyTrip, RedBus, and Eat.Fit are already making use of this feature.

“We hope these initiatives will help merchants adopt digital payments with more confidence, and help contribute to the long term growth of online financial services for the benefit of every Indian,” said Ambarish Kenghe, director and product manager for Google Pay.

The company is also bringing a feature that will enable users to discover jobs through Google Pay app. “Jobs will be available as a Spot on Google Pay to help job seekers find and prepare for entry-level positions that fit their needs,” said Caesar Sengupta (pictured above), VP of Next Billion Users Initiative and Payments at Google.

About two dozen companies including Swiggy, Zomato, Dunzo in delivery and logistics and 24Seven and Healthkart in retail are early partners of Google to use Pay’s jobs discovery feature, the Mountain View giant said.

Google launched its payments app Google Pay (called Tez then) in 2017. Pay is built on top of Indian government-backed UPI payments infrastructure and rivals with Flipkart’s PhonePe app for the tentpole position.

The payments market in India — which is projected to be worth $1 trillion by 2023, according to a Credit Suisse — is becoming aggressively crowded and competitive. Google today competes with PhonePe, Amazon Pay, and Paytm, the country’s most popular mobile wallet app whose parent company has raised over $2.3 billion from investors.

Google also announced that it is bringing tokenized cards for debit and credit cardholders in India, which will allow them to pay for things using a digital token instead of their actual card number. The company said it will roll out the feature to Google Pay users in the coming weeks, starting with Visa cards for HDFC, Axis, Kotak, and Standard Chartered banks. The feature will also support Mastercard and Rupay at a later stage.

The addition of new features is crucial for Google Pay, which prior to today’s announcements did not have many differentiating elements. It is also racing against time as Facebook’s WhatsApp, which has over 400 million users in India, is set to expand its UPI-based payments service to all its users by the end of the year.

In the meantime, Paytm is working to expand its reach in the nation, too. The company, which posted an yearly loss of over $500 million last year, said earlier this month it intends to invest another $3 billion into its business in the next two years.