Google About to Enter Indian Mobile Payments Market

July 13, 2017         By: Steven Anderson

It was once remarked in no less than Money magazine that the best way to get improved internet service was to get Google to announce it was turning your area into a Google Fiber city, and then watch the fun as every ISP in town suddenly ramped up the service. Now, with Google poised to enter the Indian mobile payment market, incumbents like Paytm may be wondering what they can do to keep the current user base in the fold.

The current reports note that Google has nearly completed testing its Unified Payments Interface (UPI) system in the region. Once complete, it will allow ready transfer of cash between bank accounts via a mobile device. Interestingly enough, Google will be walking into a fairly competitive market. Whatsapp, Amazon, and even Uber are all stepping into this market as well. However, none of these will boast Google’s UPI-based system, at last report, and that could be enough to give it an edge.

A Google representative noted “We are always looking for ways to make it easy for people to pay with their mobile devices, for instance Android Pay in some countries, and continually evaluating ways to expand those capabilities to the next billion users.”

Naturally, it’s going to be difficult to break into that market. The event which gave mobile payments a whole new muscle in the region—the nigh-total demonetization of the country’s currency—won’t happen again. Already cash is down to the smallest denominations, and the country’s established mobile wallet providers like Paytm have already taken advantage accordingly.

Still, Google has the necessary cash and market recognition—not to mention the widespread Android device use—to potentially shake up this market. It’s going to have to offer something in particular, though, to break the entrenched market share out of its current position. Discounts might go a long way here, or perhaps merchant-specific services to get more of the merchant share on its side.

Whatever Google ultimately does, it’s likely not going to be able to count on its name recognition unaided to break this pot open.  It’s going to need to offer something particularly worthwhile to break users out of entrenched patterns, just like it did with Google Fiber’s greater speeds and bandwidth caps. It will be interesting to see what it comes up with.