Google is increasing its focus on India with plans to introduce a localized digital payment service as soon as next week, according to a report from India-based news site The Ken.
The publication claims Google 'Tez' -- meaning fast in India -- will offer a comprehensive set of payment options beyond existing products like Google Wallet or Android Pay. Tez, for one thing, will include support for Unified Payments Interface (UPI) -- a payment system backed by the government -- and other consumer payment services including Paytm and MobiKwik. Apparently it will be a dedicated app when it arrives.
Google declined to comment.
This is a big deal because Google hasn't made a big push into payments outside of the U.S. and, while it has a strong consumer presence in India, revenue from the country is nothing to write home about. Yet.
There's plenty to be bullish on. Beyond India's fast growing internet user base and phone sales, which have already made it the world's second largest smartphone market, the digital payments space is tipped to rocket to $500 billion per year by 2020 -- that's according to a report from BCG and (dum dum dum...) Google.
That potential has already attracted tech companies like Flipkart, WhatsApp and Truecaller which are moving into, or have already entered the space. But a more thorough product, combined with its reach through consumer services and Android -- India's dominant operating system for smartphones -- could give Google an upper hand.
Beyond information provided by sources, The Ken dug up government filings that show Google is indeed planning to release a product named Tez in India. In addition, and rather interestingly, it looks there could be international expansion plans, too, since the search giant has registered trademarks for Tez in at least Indonesia and the Philippines.
— Venkat Ananth (@venkatananth) September 14, 2017
Google has spent significant resources developing its services in India and more recently Southeast Asia via its Next Billion Users (NBU) program. That includes free public/train station Wi-Fi, a data-optimized version of YouTube, and the Android One and Android Go operating systems for affordable devices. It also made talent acquisitions in India and Singapore to develop its NBU teams and sharpen local tech chops.