Google today announced a major relaunch of Google Pay, which was once a relatively straightforward online payment app, but will now be a full-service financial service competing with Venmo, Mint, Apple Pay, and even some banks. The new Pay is available as an Early Access app in the Google Play Store starting this afternoon, alongside the original and much less ambitious Google Pay, which is now labeled as “old version”.
In addition to the simple contactless payment features offered in the previous app, users of the new Google Pay can directly link bank accounts and credit cards to the app. This provides AI-based insight into spending and savings, replacing much of the functionality of your own bank’s online banking app with Google Pay, and more.
We can already hear readers screaming about the privacy implications of Google’s direct authorization in your banking, credit card, and payment histories, and we don’t really blame you. Google has clearly heard these screams coming as well and seems to be doing what it can to allay those concerns.
During the mandatory privacy preferences section of the Google Pay setup process, the app assures you that personal information collected in Pay will never be sold to a third party. It also undertakes that your Pay transactions are not shared with any other Google services. So, for example, buying a pair of shoes with Google Pay shouldn’t lead to a sudden attack of Nike and Adidas ads when watching YouTube videos later.
If allowed, Google Pay can use your transaction history to more efficiently select which cash back rewards and similar offers to show you in the Explore and Discover areas of the app. The parameter is optional, and it’s opt-in – you actually need to grant Google’s permission before using your data to serve offers in the app. In addition to the simple “yes you can” and “oh no” options, there is a more conservative “try it for three months” option. If this option is selected, Google will provide you with targeted offers for now, but will invite you to reconsider your decision after you’ve had a few months to simmer it.
Finally, you have the option to “help your friends find you and pay you” – which, to our older readers, is largely akin to the old days of public or private phone numbers. If you enable this setting, entering your phone number will show your name and face, filled in from your Google profile, and users who already have you as Google contacts (for example, in the address book of their phone) can find you directly in Pay. way too. If you turn it off, you can still accept payments, but your friends will have to be extra careful not to skip your number when typing, because they won’t get a confirmation that you’re okay.
The new Google Pay offers three main groups of features, organized into display icons at the bottom of the app:
- Explorer: This view shows cash back rewards and other offers available using the app. The first two that showed up for me were from Google Pay itself, offering $ 5 cash back for the first three payments made with the service and $ 10 cash back for the first three people who signed up for the service. service and who referred you. Below these deals is a “sponsored” divider and live deals from various stores. To me, it started out almost entirely as clothing suppliers, ranging from Gap to Men’s Wearhouse. Maybe Google Pay is trying to tell me something about my wardrobe largely based on the conference shwag …
- Payer: This view displays contacts, companies and discovery.
- People allows you to send money person-to-person and review these transactions afterwards.
- Companies displays a list of traditional purchases you have made, either with Pay itself, credit cards or associated accounts, or with receipts you have photographed. If you have access to the trawl through your photos, it automatically analyzes receipt photos and presents them as line items organized by vendor and amount, with links to the original photo. (I allowed Pay to scan my Google Photos account, and it immediately discovered every meal I bought while traveling for Ars.)
- Discover is basically another way to incorporate a subset of the Explore view into the part of the app that customers will see most frequently. My Discover currently has links to take out or deliveries from nearby restaurants as well as gas pumps that accept Pay. The gas link may not be fully functional yet – it warns that I need to enable device location for the service to work but does not offer a way to enable it. Meanwhile, the food service – which also requires a location – immediately took my location and listed nearby restaurants.
- Insights—Insights displays the most recent activity on your Pay account, credit cards or linked accounts, and all scanned receipts. It also allows you to link a bank account, using the third-party Plaid service – giving Plaid the username and password you use for your bank’s own online banking app allows Pay to y access directly. It can manage multiple accounts linked to the same username and password, allowing you to link all or part of them to Pay.
In addition to the fairly wide array of features released today, Google has co-branded upcoming bank accounts in 2021. The new service, called Plex, essentially allows banks to partner with Google and use Google. Pay as their own direct banking app.
Once Plex is available, Google Pay users can use it to open new accounts with partner banks right from the app. Google already has 11 banks and credit unions listed as partners, including Citi and Stanford Federal Credit Union. Google says the new Plex accounts will be opened for free and come with Google-designed debit cards.
Google is touting AI knowledge, the ability to set spending and savings goals, and more as key benefits of upcoming Plex accounts, but it’s not entirely clear how much this feature will require. actually Plex. Much of it already appears to be in place with standard Plaid-linked bank accounts – although it’s worth noting that Plex would eliminate at least another potentially exploitable third party tied to your assets.
Listing image by Pictures of Money / Flickr