Google’s redesigned digital wallet tries to make payments more personal


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Google is trying to attract more people to its payments app and keep them there longer with features like a rewards system, new financial management services, and a payments-listing format that sparks SMS conversations.

The Google Pay app will eventually offer Plex, mobile checking and savings accounts being launched by Google in partnership with 11 banks and credit unions.

“It enables the mobile app and Google Pay to solve a broader range of a customer’s financial needs beyond payments,” said Ross Cosner, vice president and analyst at Gartner Inc.

Google’s revamped app, which launched in November, comes at a time when digital wallet competitors are rapidly expanding both users and functionality.

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has its own app with features like an installment plan, and the company’s peer-to-peer payment system, Venmo, offers check cashing and a physical credit card with QR code .

Many of these apps also include some of the same features as Google Pay. Venmo gives users a social-media-like feed of their friends’ payments, complete with emojis and stickers, for example, and offers a cash-back rewards system.

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Mint offers users insights into their money, e.g. B. Tracking expenses in a specific category.

Google Pay provides users with personalized snapshots in areas such as weekly spend


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The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated the use of digital wallets on mobile devices and other forms of contactless payments. Research firm eMarketer estimated in June that the number of people using digital wallets at a point-of-sale system will increase from 86.9 million in 2020 to 93 million this year.

The design of the Google Pay app – including illustrations, the threaded payment “conversations” and a muted color palette – aims to make it feel less transactional and more focused on building relationships with people and businesses in the app.” said Mike Holzer, director of user experience at Google Payments.

“It reflects this very conversational way of interacting,” said Mr. Holzer.

The app also tries to channel the “Stories” format of short vertical videos that are popular on social media platforms. The story-like images offer users a snapshot of upcoming bills and bank charges. Google Pay has about seven types of these “stories,” personalized according to a user’s spend, a Google spokesman said.

Other options allow users to connect the app to their Gmail and Google Photos accounts to search for receipts and categorize transactions.

Some of these additions to user experience can make the app feel more personal than others, experts say.

Threaded transactions have a chat-based feel, a design element many people are familiar with, said Chelsea Matthews, Founder and Executive Creative Director at Another

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a creative agency. “It feels a little bit more original than the way things are very transactional on Venmo,” she said.

The illustrations in the app are vibrant and give it a friendlier feel than many payment apps, said Jess Jaime, senior designer at Jaime Studio, a design agency.

Google Pay is lagging behind its more established rivals and the question remains whether the new features will be enough to catch up. The app had an average of 1.35 million monthly active iOS users in 2020, compared to 26.8 million for Cash App, 13 million for PayPal, and 11.4 million for Venmo, according to Gartner analysis by SensorTower Inc. Data from the top five iOS payment apps. Google faces a similar challenge on Android devices with an average of 1.33 million monthly active users, compared to 12.4 million for Cash App, 12.2 for PayPal and 10.7 million for Venmo, according to Gartner’s analysis of SensorTower Data.

And because Google Pay’s features work best when users allow the app access to their Gmail and Google Photos accounts, there may be additional hurdles, said Jenny Nicholson, executive director, brand experience at McKinney Ventures LLC Advertising agency.

Google faces a series of antitrust lawsuits including one filed by the Department of Justice in October. Google has replied in posts onlineand says its free products help people and small businesses, and those of the Department of Justice Suit is “deeply flawed”.

People like that they can use Google for so many purposes, but they can be nervous about sharing even more information with the company, Ms Nicholson said. “Does Google have the kind of trust where people want to connect all of their financial information to Google?” she said.

Google Pay’s Mr. Holzer said the app was designed with privacy principles like transparency and control in mind. The integrations with Gmail and Photos are disabled by default and must be enabled by interested users.

“We’ve seen from our experience around the world that when we build features that are really helpful to our users and give them transparent controls, adoption follows,” said Mr. Holzer.

write to Ann-Marie Alcántara at [email protected]

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