TECHCRUNCH: Google has been stepping up its game in mobile payments the last several months, buying Softcard’s point-of-sale tech and making some international advances for its money transfer service. Today it’s adding another crucial piece to mix: some key integrations with merchants and merchant platforms. Customers that use Android apps from Dunkin’ Donuts and Seamless, and merchants that build online stores through Shopify, will now all be able to access Google Wallet to make and accept quick payments.
The news follows on from an integration in November with Papa John’s Android app, as well as merchant platforms ChowNow and Shopgate. But overall it has been a relatively slow rollout for Google Wallet: before today, there were only around 30 mobile sites and 30 apps integrated with the product.
To date, the payment services of Google Wallet are restricted to U.S. users and businesses only, although the company has now started to extend the ability to transfer money, another aspect of Wallet, to international markets, opening it up to Gmail users in the UK.
Mobile payments have been a long-held dream for many in the industry — the idea being that making quick and easy payments using a handset is not only safer, but more likely to get consumers to buy more things as they browse away. But between getting merchants and others in the ecosystem on the same technology page, and consumers actually convinced that whipping out a phone is easier than presenting a card or cash, mobile payments have essentially remained a niche play.
But it seems that we are now at a tipping point with technology and consumer interest finally meeting — likely helped by the introduction of Apple Pay. And Google is not to be outdone.
As with other mobile wallet services such as Apple Pay and PayPal, Google wallet aims to cut out some of the pain points in paying for things using a mobile device, by securely storing card numbers and other authentication details, and shipping information, in its system. But there is also a much bigger opportunity that Google has if it can get businesses and consumers interested to “Buy with Google.”
Namely, Google’s existing, extensive businesses in areas like search, advertising, video and email afford the company a lot of potential reach to consumers. Giving them an option to buy what they are already seeing seems like a no-brainer and way of increasing its revenue margins per user.
But to see this as only a win for Google is not entirely the full picture, either.
Shopify, the commerce platform that is taking on the likes of Amazon by offering a one-stop shop for merchants to do business online, needs to continue adding useful features to the mix to keep its own business customers on its platform — and not migrating to competitors like GoDaddy, for example. To that end, adding another easy way to pay, for customers who may want to use it, is an obvious move.
Before today, Shopify already accepted PayPal payments. It tells me that it does not yet have a date for when Apple Pay will be available, although it has publicly said it is on the way.
Louis Kearns, Shopify’s product director, merchant services, says that the decision to add Google Wallet was something that was neither pushed more by one side or the other. “This is a partnership between Shopify and Google,” he said.
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