New Delhi: Google Tez has become the latest UPI-based payments app in the country, propelling the Internet search giant into the league of companies eyeing a piece of India's digital payments pie. The new Google Tez app can be used to pay for movie tickets, utility bills, and make other transactions online. The company will hold a launch event for the app on Monday in New Delhi, but has made it official ahead of that. Tez means fast in Hindi, which the company said was one of the selling points of its new app. Google's rivals such as Amazon and Facebook are also making efforts to tap the country's digital payments market.
Google Tez is a standalone payments app, available on Android and iOS, and is powered by UPI, a payments protocol built by government-backed organisation NPCI. The launch of Google Tez comes nine months after the company chief executive officer Sundar Pichai told us in a televised interview that he was looking at UPI and ways to adopt it.
"The app weighs just 7MB on Android and works with the vast majority of Android smartphones in the country," Caesar Sengupta, the head of Google's Next Billion programme said onstage at the event. The app even works on Android KitKat-powered smartphones, Sengupta said. iPhone users -- going as back as iPhone 4s -- will be able to use Tez app as well, he added.
How Google Tez works
The Google Tez UPI-enabled digital payments app supports various local languages including Hindi, Bengali, Gujarati, Kannada, Marathi, Tamil and Telugu. The interface is straightforward, and strikingly different from other payments apps, Google executives said onstage at the event. "This was deliberate. We wanted to make digital payments as simple as paying via cash," executives said. The company asks users to enter their bank account number and verify their ownership. They can do so easily by quickly sending a text message from their registered phone number through the Google Tez app's interface. Once verified, Google prompts the user to add a UPI PIN, and then they can start making payments. They can then see all their friends who're also using Tez, and request and pay money.
More interesting, however, is the Google Tez "Cash mode" option, which transmits "audio" using Google's QR technology to identify the person nearby you, and lets you pay or receive money when you're able to find that user. "It works on almost all phones sold in India," a Google executive said at the event. The company has partnered with Axis, HDFC Bank, ICICI, and State Bank of India for backend processing. "With Cash Mode, we have made paying digitally as easy as paying via cash," a Google executive said.