Tech giant Google on Monday became the latest to break into India’s robust digital payments space with the launch of its Tez app for both Android and iOS operated smartphones. The California-headquartered company beat Facebook-owned WhatsApp, which is reportedly working on including a payment option for India
The app lets users transfer money over the internet to people and businesses, which also have the app, bypassing the need for a credit or debit card. With Tez, Google is trying to reach more people in India, one of the largest smartphone markets globally but with a low penetration of credit and debit cards.
Tez is built on the Indian government-supported Unified Payments Interface (UPI).
Spurred on by the demonetisation of 1,000 and 500 rupee notes in November 2016, mobile wallets like Paytm made a windfall as Indians were forced to resort to digital payments. Paytm, the Alibaba company, is the mostwidely used wallet in India with over 200 million users.
The Tez app, however, is different from mobile wallets like Paytm and Mobikwik in that it does not actually store the money, but enables transactions directly from bank accounts.
The Alphabet company has tied up with the country’s largest public sector lender State Bank of India as well as private lenders HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank and Axis Bank to facilitate the processing of payments across over 50 UPI enabled banks.
The digital payments market, expected to grow ten-fold to $500 billion (over Rs 32 lakh crore) by 2020, also has Mobikwik, the government’s BHIM app, Samsung Pay and others fighting for the pie. Most recently, Kavin Bharti Mittal-led Hike Messenger started a UPI-linked wallet within its messenger.
“Opportunity is huge not just for us but many other players to achieve the vision of getting India off cash,” said Google V-P of Next Billion Users, Caesar Sengupta.
“Our primary competitor is cash. There is plenty of room for many players,” said Google V-P, head of finance and commerce products, Diana Layfield.
The launch also comes against the backdrop of the debate on data privacy and cyber security. “We give you controls to delete your data at any point of time and take it away,” said Sengupta.
Finance minister Arun Jaitley, who inaugurated the app, said the Google team was extremely keen on the digital payment project because they saw a great potential, both in the economy and the businesses in India.
“Now, the time has come with an application as simple as this. What started as a compulsion becomes a matter of convenience and eventually a matter of spending habit as far as Indian people are concerned,” he said, referring to the demonetisation exercise.