Cash-Only Apps? Google Has a Plan to Bypass Mobile Payments

May 10, 2019         By: Steven Anderson

Of all the potential use cases for mobile payments systems of any variety, app buying pretty much had to be the dead-bang lock. After all, no phone came with a coin slot, so it wasn’t like you could insert quarters to get your $0.99 app. However, word of a new Google service has emerged, and it’s opened up the potential for people to get apps by paying for them in straight cash.

The new service is currently called “pending transactions,” and it allows for different options at checkout when it comes to buying apps with Google Play. With pending transactions in place, users can request a payment code when buying an app, and take that code to a physical store, where the user can then pay in cash accordingly. Once the payment is made, the transaction is completed within 10 minutes. If demanded later, a refund is issued in the form of Play Store credit.

It’s geared toward the emerging markets more than anything, as noted by director of engineering Aurash Mahbod, who described pending transactions as essentially “…a new class of delayed form of payment, like cash, bank transfer and direct debit.”

The move is specifically geared toward those markets where credit is in short supply if it’s available at all, reports note, and though Google already supports several alternatives—carrier billing, various e-wallet systems and India’s UPI system—it’s always looking to ramp up those numbers and get more potential users in the fold. In fact, the lack of credit in developing countries is said to be one of the major drivers behind people using mainly ad-supported or free-to-play apps.

Honestly, I don’t anticipate the “pending transactions” concept will do much good outside of those developing markets, and even then only on a limited basis. We’ve already seen mobile payments systems catching on in large parts of Africa, which is pretty much the zenith of “developing market.” In fact, Google’s moves to accept all those other systems probably made more headway than the “pending transactions” system will.

Still, any move that allows the widest potential number of customers really can’t be ignored easily. Google’s move will help get everyone in the fold who can be and wants to be, and that’s a good move overall.