Report: Google is launching a payment app in India next week

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Business media outlet The Ken reported today that Google is gearing up to launch Tez, a cross-platform payments app, in India, as soon as next Monday.

The app (whose name translates from Hindi to mean ‘fast’) is expected to feature a digital wallet where you can store currency, integration with India’s Unified Payments Interface (UPI) to allow for money transfers at no cost, and a simplified checkout system. It’s also said to support credit cards and third-party wallets like Paytm and Mobikwik.

That sounds a bit like an India-specific version of Android Pay – but on steroids. Tez will apparently also be available on desktops, Chrome and as a standalone Android app. In addition, it’s slated to be integrated into other apps to allow for easier payments.

With that, Google is eyeing India’s growing digital commerce and payments space as a new source of revenue. Following the grand nationwide demonetization exercise last November, wallets and digital peer-to-peer money transfers have taken off. Paytm, one of the largest players in this space, now counts 100 million users on its wallet platform.

There are other reasons why it makes sense for Google to dive deep into payments in India: the search giant’s Android mobile OS accounts for 97 percent of the market share of all smartphones in the country, and it’ll be easy for the company to integrate Tez deeply into the platform. It also sells apps, books, movies, and a streaming music service locally, and Tez could help get more people to pay for these.

In addition, Google launched its Areo app earlier this year to let people book household maintenance and order food from local service providers and purveyors. Tez could make it easier for Google to handle payments for those too. The company is also believed to looking into ways to support transactions through its Assistant service.

And of course, there’s data. By offering to streamline several of your monetary transactions, Google will soon learn more about how you spend your money, and be able to target ads to you even more precisely than before.

As The Ken points out, Google’s not the only one keen on payments in India. Caller ID service Truecaller already lets you send and request money transfers through its app, while WhatsApp is believed to be working on a similar feature for its messaging platform. Paytm, meanwhile, is believed to be exploring the opposite route and is building a messaging service into its payments app.

Tez could be Google’s avenue into this space; it could even extend the service into its Allo and Duo messaging apps, which it’s pushing hard with ads on YouTube. Stay tuned for more information about Tez once it launches next week.

Update: Google has confirmed to The Ken (with a GIF, at that) that it’s doing something on Monday.

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