Google to Ride into Email Bill Payment with ‘Pony Express’? (March 30, 2015)
Google is working on developing a Gmail-based bill payment service called Pony Express, which could roll out as early as the fourth quarter, according to published reports. The free service would enable a user to sign up to receive bills via Gmail or Google’s new Inbox app, providing his name, address and at least part of his Social Security number. Users would pay bills by registering a bank account or debit card with the service and clicking to authorize payment for each bill. Google will contract with third parties that already specialize in sending consumers bills via mail and email for thousands of utilities, financial and telecom companies, according to Re/code.
Consumers already have their pick of bill payment options, with banks aggressively pushing bill payment services at no additional cost. Free, walk-in bill payment also is available to consumers at thousands of U.S. retail locations via InComm’s Paybefore Award-winning Cashtie service. But the prospective market for bill payment is large, and Google’s service could add convenience by enabling users to consolidate bills in a single email folder for easier management and sharing with other household members, Re/code suggests.
Google’s Pony Express move would be yet another example of Internet giants trying to gain a foothold in payments. Google, which has half a billion email users, in 2011 launched its first mobile payments product with Google Wallet, and the company reportedly is working on a new mobile payments service, Android Pay, expected to roll out this year to compete with Apple Pay. That service would enable consumers with NFC-equipped mobile handsets to pay at the POS without swiping a card. Facebook earlier this month announced plans to roll out free P2P services to consumers later this year via its Messenger app, which claims 700 million enrolled users.
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