To bolster the offerings of its UPI-enabled digital payments app Tez, Google India today announced the launch of a new feature that is designed to help users pay their bills within seconds without any transaction charges.
Built to support the Bharat BillPay system, the facility has been launched with support for more than 80+ billers, including national and state providers of electricity, gas and water. The feature is also intended for DTH and mobile postpaid bills and recharge.
As per the official statement, the new bill pay feature will include major utility providers like Reliance Energy, BSES and DishTV, and in total will cover all states and major metros in India.
Commenting on the development, Diana Layfield, VP, Payments and Commerce at Google’s Next Billion Users said, “We are delighted to bring additional new functionality to our growing base of users on Tez. Today, we are adding a specially designed bill pay experience in Tez which will enable users to make a wide range of bill payments including electricity, water, gas, DTH, and insurance from the app. We hope that users will like the simplicity and time saving with the new bill pay experience on Tez.”
For recurring bill payments, the UPI-based digital wallet will also send users a timely notification when their bill arrives. Users can check whether they have paid a bill by tapping the biller’s name on their Tez home screen.
Additionally, users will be able to view all past payments as well as manage bills from multiple accounts.
According to a spokesperson for Google India, customers can see different billers depending on their location. Once the biller has been located on the app, the user needs to enter the number associated with his/her account to link it to Tez.
Following that, for most utility bills, Tez will automatically fetch any available bills. As part of the promotional offer, for every new bill a customer pays this month, Google India is offering scratch card with up to $15.5 (INR 1,000).
The development comes just over two months after the US-headquartered tech giant announced plans to roll out a new version of Tez, with the aim of allowing users to make payments of utility bills directly through the digital payments app.
At the third edition of of Google for India, held in New Delhi during the first week of December 2017, the company also unveiled a couple of more India centric products such as Android Oreo – a new smartphone experience for entry-level devices, Google Go – a new search app and a new “two-wheeler mode”in Google Maps for India
Built on the Indian government-supported Unified Payments Interface (UPI), Tez is a simple and secure mobile app for digital payments, built with the goal of making digital payments as easy as using cash.
Google Keen On Invading Indian Digital Payments Sector With Tez
Google has been present in the digital payment market since 2011. Initially, launched as Google Wallet, it got replaced by Android Pay in 2015, to counter Apple Pay success. While Google’s e-wallet Android Pay has been already launched in leading countries across the world, in India, Google came up with a customised solution Tez, postponing Android Pay launch in the country.
The UPI-enabled mobile payments app Tez made its official debut in September 2017, when it was launched by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in New Delhi.
At the time, Google proclaimed that Tez would enable Indian users to link their phones to their bank accounts, in order to pay for goods securely in physical stores and online as well as allow person-to-person money transfers.
As part of the launch, the global search engine behemoth tied up with a number of banks such as Axis, HDFC Bank, ICICI and the State Bank of India and others. Tez currently works with over 50 UPI-enabled banks to make the customer experience as seamless as possible.
At the time of its launch, its list of online payment partners included Dominos, RedBus, PVR Cinemas, and Jet Airways, among others.
Additionally, the app also contained a separate business portal for online companies to integrate as sellers to accept Tez payments. As per the description, “Businesses also get their own Business Channels on the Tez app where they can engage directly with their customers to share offers and more.”
Currently, some of the key features of the Tez app include swift transactions on the spot through Google’s proprietary Audio QR (AQR) ultrasound technology; payments through QR code and UPI ID; offline and online payments and multiple security layers such as machine learning-based fraud detection engine and device level protection, among others.
Available on both Android and iOS, the Android version of Google’s digital payments app supports a number of Indian languages apart from English and Hindi, including Bengali, Tamil, Marathi, Telugu, Kannada, and Gujarati.
The Burgeoning War In The Indian Digital Payments Space
As per a recent report by Swiss financial services holding company Credit Suisse, India’s digital payments industry, which is currently worth around $200 Bn, is expected to grow five-fold to reach $1 Tn by 2023.
Attributing the growth to the increasing popularity of UPI enabled apps like Google Tez, Credit Suisse analysts Ashish Gupta, Kush Shah, and Sunil Tirumalai had stated, “In just four months of launching its payments app, Google is already processing the same number of digital transactions as Axis Bank (fourth highest among banks) and has resulted in Unified Payments Interface (UPI) transactions increasing about eight times.”
The total transaction value surged to $2 Tn (INR 131.95 Tn) in January, making it the second highest reported in a single month over the last one year. Compared to that, December 2017 clocked transactions worth around $1.9 Tn (INR 125.51 Tn).
Leading the growth is UPI, which crossed the 151.7 Mn transactions mark last month, undergoing a 4% increase from the 145.5 Mn transactions clocked in December 2017.
Similarly, the value of UPI-enabled transactions also jumped by 18% from $2 Bn (INR 131.4 Bn) in the last month of 2017 to $2.4 Bn (INR 155.4 Bn) in January.
Within three months from its launch, in December 2017, Google Tez hit the 12 Mn user mark. Despite its phenomenal growth, it faces fierce competition from a growing class of digital payments players in India.
Its biggest rival is WhatsApp, which is currently testing its UPI-based payments feature in the country. Given that the instant messaging app has more than 200 Mn monthly active Indian users, WhatsApp’s entry could intensify the war brewing in the digital payments space.
While Flipkart-owned PhonePe hit 33 Mn transactions in November 2017, Paytm has also clocked over 100 Mn downloads. Hike Messenger, which launched its UPI app in June 2017, reported 10 Mn financial transactions in November 2017 on the back of a 100% month-on-month growth. It has clocked more than 10 Mn downloads on Google Play Store.
In the midst of such cut-throat competition, Google is trying to appeal to the masses by allowing utility bill payments through Tez. How successful it is in carving a market for itself remains to be seen.