Google is launching a major overhaul of its Google Pay app on Android and iOS today. Like similar contactless payment services over the phone, Google Pay – or Android Pay as it was then known – started out as a basic replacement for your credit card. Over time, the company added a few more features, but the general focus never really changed. After about five years in the market, Google Pay now has around 150 million users in 30 countries. With today’s update and redesign, Google keeps all the core functionality intact, but also steers the service in a new direction with a heavy focus on managing your personal finances (and maybe also on a chord here and there).
Google is also partnering with 11 banks to launch a new type of bank account in 2021. Called Plex, these mobile bank accounts won’t have monthly fees, overdraft fees, or minimum balances. Banks will own the accounts, but the Google Pay app will be the primary means of managing those accounts. Launch partners for this are Citi and Stanford Federal Credit Union.
“What we’re doing in this new Google Pay app, think about it, is combining three things into one,” Google’s director of product management Josh Woodward said as he walked me through a demo of the new application. “The three things are three tabs in the app. One is the ability to pay friends and businesses very quickly. The second is to explore offers and rewards, so you can save money in the stores.And the third is to get information about your spending so you can stay in control of your money.
Paying friends and businesses has always been at the heart of Google Pay, but the focus has changed a bit here. “You’ll notice that everything in the product is built around your relationships,” Caesar Sengupta, Google’s head of payments and next billion users, told me. “It’s not about long lists of transactions or weird numbers. All of your commitments revolve around people, groups and businesses. »
So it’s perhaps no surprise that the feature that’s now at the center of the app is P2P payments. You can also still pay and request money through the app as usual, but as part of this overhaul, Google now makes it easier to share restaurant bills with friends, for example, or your rent and utilities. with your roommates – and to see who has already paid and who is still overdue. Woodward tells me that Google created this feature after its user research showed that bill splitting remains a major issue for its users.
In this same view, you can also find a list of companies you’ve recently transacted with, either using Google Pay’s tap-and-pay feature or because you’ve linked your credit card or bank account. in the service. From there, you can see all of your recent transactions with these companies.
Perhaps the most important new feature that Google is enabling with this update is indeed the ability to connect your bank accounts and credit cards to Google Pay so that it can pull information about your spending. It’s basically Mint-light in the Google Pay app. This is what allows the company to offer many other new app features. Google says it’s working with “a few different aggregators” to enable the feature, though it didn’t give details of who its partners are. It’s worth pointing out that this, like all new features here, is disabled by default and opt-in.
The basic idea here is similar to other personal finance aggregators. Basically, it lets you see how much money you’ve spent and how much you have left. But Google also uses its intelligence to show you interesting information about your consumption habits. On Monday, it will show you how much you spent over the weekend, for example.
“Think of these stories almost as stories,” Woodward said. “You can browse to see your large transactions. You can see how much you spent this week compared to a typical week. You can see how much money you sent to friends and which friends and where you spent money. money in November, for example.
It also allows you to easily search for a given transaction using Google’s search capabilities. Since it’s Google this search should work quite well and in a demo the team showed me how a search for “Turkish” brought up a transaction at a kebab restaurant, for example, even s there was no “Turk” in his name. If you regularly take photos of your receipts, you can also search them from Google Pay and access specific items you’ve purchased, as well as receipts and invoices you receive in your Gmail inbox.
Another new feature of Google Pay is the ability to virtually view and clip coupons which are then linked to your credit card, so you don’t have to do anything but use that linked credit card to get an additional discount on a given transaction, for Example. If you register, these offers can also be personalized.
The team has also worked with the Google Lens team to now allow you to scan products and QR codes to search for potential discounts.
As for the basic payment function, Google is also enabling a new feature that will now allow you to use contactless payments at 30,000 gas stations (often with a discount). Partners for this are Shell, ExxonMobil, Phillips 66, 76 and Conoco.
Plus, you’ll soon be able to pay for parking in over 400 cities inside the app. Not all cities are Portland, after all, and have a parking cat. The first cities to get this feature are Austin, Boston, Minneapolis, and Washington, DC, with more to follow soon.
It’s one thing to let Google handle your credit card transaction, but it’s another thing to give it all that often very personal data. As the team pointed out throughout my conversation with them, Google Pay will not sell your data to third parties or even the rest of Google for ad targeting, for example. All custom features are also disabled by default, and the team is doing something new here by allowing you to enable them for a three-month trial period. After these three months, you can then decide to keep them on or off.
In the end, whether you want to use the optional features and have Google store all that data is probably a personal choice and not everyone will be comfortable with that. The rest of Google Pay’s core features don’t change, after all, so you can still make your NFC payments at the supermarket with your phone just like before.