Google Assistant Now Lets You Send Money to a Friend Using Google Pay
Google announced in a blog post yesterday that you can now send money to your contacts using Google Assistant. The service utilizes Google Pay and it is not required for the sender or recipient to have previously established a Google Pay account according to the post. If the sender doesn’t have Google Pay configured, Assistant will prompt them to set up an account.
“Starting today, you can ask your Google Assistant to pay your friends back with Google Pay…You can easily send or request money from your contacts—for free—using the Assistant on Android and iOS phones in the U.S. In the coming months, you’ll be able to send money on voice-activated speakers like Google Home.”
It appears the recipient also needs to set up Google Pay to receive the funds. A Google representative sent me this link which indicates that claiming funds does require a Google Pay account. Also, you cannot use a credit card to send money. You must link your Google Pay account to a debit card to use the service.
Money Transfer is a Big Business
Google wants to stay out ahead of Amazon for providing this service, but the real competition in this space is PayPal. PayPal conducted $451 billion in transactions in 2017. That wasn’t entirely money transfer because PayPal is also used for purchases. However, at least $34 billion of that was PayPal’s Venmo division which can also be used for purchases but built its business on a simple way for a largely millennial user base to send money to each other.
Google charges no fees for money transfers similar to services from Venmo, PayPal and Square Cash when linking to debit cards or directly to bank accounts. However, each of those competing services do offer the option to use a credit card for a 2.9%-3% fee.
The Bigger Play is Using Google Assistant for Commerce
Google Assistant wants to become integral to all parts of consumers’ lives and money transfer is a way to build familiarity. A Morning Consult survey in 2017 found that 11% of millennials reported using Venmo several times per day. Google Assistant and by extension, Google Pay, would like to become part of those daily habits whether for money transfer or purchases. Money transfer is a particularly good way to grow the number of Google Pay users because it has a viral element. If someone sends you money via Google Pay, you need to establish an account to receive the cash. Then you have a Google Pay account and there is no friction for using it for purchases on mobile or through Google Assistant in the future.
Google is focused on voice commerce and removing payment friction is no doubt a goal. Earlier this week the company announced Shopping Actions for Google Assistant. This feature integrates Google product search through Google Assistant directly into the purchase process. Google only takes a fee when a purchase is completed. You can see how money transfer and shopping all link together when the first step is to get users accustomed to using Google Pay through Google Assistant.