Google joins mobile payments race in India

BANGALOREAlphabet Inc’s Google introduced a digital payments service specifically designed for India as competition heats up for the country’s billion-plus potential users.

Tez, the Hindi word for fast, debuted yesterday for download on iPhones and Android devices and joins an increasingly crowded field. The service is compatible with the Indian government-backed Unified Payments Interface, which simplifies financial transactions and transfers of money between banks. Users pay directly from their accounts at major domestic banks including the State Bank of India, and transfer money to fellow Tez users without sharing personal details. While Tez is aimed squarely at India for now, the app may prove suitable for other countries in future, Google VP Caesar Sengupta told reporters yesterday.

Digital transactions in the country surged after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government banned highvalue bank notes in November, taking more than 85% of the country’s currency out of circulation. The government has since boosted fintech with incentives and a string of initiatives such as digital lockers and user authentication based on its digital identity programme, Aadhaar.

Google’s new service goes beyond Android Pay by allowing the linking of payment apps from a clutch of Indian banks, as well as services of Paytm Payments Bank Pte Ltd and One MobiKwik Systems Pte Ltd. While India remains a cash-dependent economy, the nascent digital payments sector is estimated to grow to US$500 billion (RM2.1 trillion) by 2020, up from US$50 billion last year, PwC India said in a recent report. — Bloomberg