Alphabet Inc.’s Google unit on Wednesday announced a major overhaul of its 5-year-old Google Pay wallet to push beyond mobile payments and incorporate links and data Google says will generate daily usage. The move comes as major payment apps such as Apple Pay and Google Pay have sought to boost activity by enabling communication between users and incorporating a wider range of financial applications.
Consumers can use the redesigned app to pay for, and split, purchases between users, see past transactions and find offers and loyalty information, for example, all of which can be organized around “conversations” with other users, said Caesar Sengupta, a Google general manager and vice president for payments and next billion users, in a blog post about the revamped Google Pay.
“The concept of a “super app” is gradually coming to life in the [United States]” says 451 Research payments analyst Jordan McKee. “Beyond Google Pay, Square’s Cash App and PayPal are also taking steps to augment their functionality through the incorporation of capabilities such as offers, cryptocurrency purchasing, and investments.”
This trend, McKee says, should help mobile wallets grow, something they’ve had trouble doing so long as they focused on payments. “Effectively, mobile wallets have operated as a credit card in a digital form factor,” he says. “This has likely been a factor that has throttled growth.”
In that vein, Google is touting how the revamped app now eases access to everyday promotional rewards. Google Pay users can automatically receive offers and coupons from merchants in their wallet and activate them by tapping on the offer to have them automatically applied when paying in store or online.
“Look out for offers from brands like Burger King, Etsy, REI Co-op, Sweetgreen, Target, Warby Parker and more in the app,” Sengupta says in the blog post. “You can also use Google Pay to order food at over 100,000 restaurants, buy gas at over 30,000 gas stations and pay for parking in over 400 cities, all from within the app—and more easy ways to pay are coming soon.”
Consumers now have the option to connect their bank account or payment cards to Google Pay to receive periodic spending summaries that identify trends. In addition, users will be able to search their transaction history in multiple ways, such as by entering such terms as “food,” “last month,” or “Mexican restaurants.”
“Google’s pursuit of a more holistic commerce value proposition borrows a number of concepts that have helped digital wallets proliferate in international markets,” McKee says by email. “By wrapping in capabilities that extend beyond payments, Google Pay is fulfilling a variety of roles across the shopping journey. This enhances its utility to users and should help broaden its appeal.”
Looking ahead to 2021, Google plans to roll out Plex, a mobile-first bank account integrated into Google Pay that includes checking and savings accounts with no monthly fees, overdraft charges, or minimum-balance requirements. The move is part of a broader strategy announced a year ago by Google to launch checking accounts managed through Google Pay in partnership with financial institutions, starting with Citigroup Inc. and Stanford Federal Credit Union.
Eleven banks and credit unions in the United States, including minority-owned depository banks, will begin offering Plex accounts in Google Pay next year. “In the meantime, you can join the waitlist on the app and be one of the first to apply for a Plex Account from Citi or SFCU,” Sengupta says.
Google launched its mobile wallet, which was then called Android Pay, in 2015 in answer to Apple’s launch of Apple Pay the year before. Google renamed the service Google Pay in 2018.