Google announced this week the merger of two of its payment services — Android Pay and Google Wallet — into one service — Google Pay. This is pretty forward thinking from the company that maintains four separate chat/video conference apps. I’m all for it. The move is long overdue, and it makes sense for a lot of reasons.
Google Wallet has been around for a long time. Awhile back I used it for mobile payments wherever I could, which basically meant Walgreens and nowhere else. As NFC payments became more and more popular I have continued to use it (followed by Android Pay) wherever possible. It’s just fun to do — I have become a fan.
Managing the payments
Now that Google is bringing all of its payment and reward card services under one brand, managing it all will become easier. Remember, moves like these aren’t necessarily made for people like us. They’re made for Joe Consumer— the everyday person. I have tech friends who get tripped up trying to send a Google Wallet payment. If even they are struggling, what does that say about the general public? Which brings us to the next point — Google Pay.
Google spent the last few years or so bringing more and more brand recognition to the name “Google” and less to “Android.” It started with Google’s hot-word search “OK Google” and continued from there. Coming from a site like “Android Authority” it hurts a little to admit that Google is far more recognizable as a brand than Android. When the average consumer thinks of an Android phone, they’re usually thinking of — and calling them — Samsung Galaxy phones.
Powered by Google
Remember a few years ago, when Google started requiring the “Powered by Android” brand on Android phones? This is part of that reason. We could write a whole feature about the brand recognition of “Android phone” versus “Samsung phone,” but that’s not why we’re here. Suffice it to say, it’s probably not Google’s favorite topic in the world.
As mobile payments become more and more popular, adding the branding of Google Pay may give them another boost. Apple Pay brought a big name to the mobile payment industry. Google Pay could give it another shot in the arm. Google is such a well known brand (it’s a verb, for crying out loud!) that adding its name to mobile payments could help further legitimize holding your phone/watch to a payment terminal. If Google is doing it, it’s gotta be great, right?
Mo’ money, mo’ money
This move could also bring the person-to-person payment system back into the spotlight. Google Wallet is useful for sending money between people — not just to Walgreens. It’s a feature not too many people remember (once again, general consumers, not you and me). For Google, the more money passing through its payment system, the better.
Consolidating those services together will bring more visibility to a needed service that others, like PayPal, have already established. In a world where everything requires a username/password, eliminating additional services could be valuable. If Google Pay cuts in on PayPal’s turf, it could be better for both Google and for the consumer. There is also an element of of “Keeping up with the Joneses” here, as Apple Pay already allows for mobile payments via iMessage. It makes me wonder what will be in store for Google Pay at Google I/O this year. It could be exciting.
But for now, Android Pay and Google Wallet are happily joined in wedded bliss. Maybe this is a sign that Google is interested in some consolidation after all — maybe those four messaging services get consolidated, after all. In the meantime, my hobby as a mobile payment evangelist got a little easier. Now I get to say “Google Pay” instead of “Android Pay.” That alone makes me excited.