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Google Wallet launches in India with local features; Google Pay remains.

ByYasmeeta Oon

May 5, 2024
Google Wallet launches in India with local features; Google Pay remains.

Google Wallet launches in India with local features; Google Pay remains.

Google Inc. is poised to introduce its Google Wallet service in India, nearly two years after its American relaunch as a comprehensive digital wallet platform. This introduction marks a significant extension into one of Google’s largest user bases, despite the persistence of Google Pay as a separate entity in the Indian market.

An unexpected listing on the Google Play store in India last week offered the first hint of Google Wallet’s imminent arrival. The app preview, inadvertently published, was first reported by TechCrunch. The listing revealed potential partnerships with major Indian brands such as Air India, the State Bank of India, and multiplex chain PVR Inox, indicating that Google Wallet might support loyalty programs and various payment functionalities. Although the specifics were quickly replaced with more generic U.S. brand details after the initial exposure, the brief glimpse sparked widespread speculation and interest.

Interestingly, Google has opted for a divergent approach in the Indian market by continuing to operate Google Pay independently from Google Wallet. This strategy contrasts with its method in other markets where it has been merging digital payment solutions under the single umbrella of Google Wallet. A spokesperson from Google elaborated on the decision, stating, “While we don’t have anything new to share right now, we’re always working to bring more convenience to people’s digital experiences in India. We’re continuing to invest in the Google Pay app to give people easy, secure access to digital payments.”

This decision underscores the significant foothold Google Pay has in India, where it ranks as the second most utilized UPI app after PhonePe. Google Pay’s success in India is substantial, with the app initiating over 5 billion transactions valued at more than $83 billion in just March, according to data from the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI).

Google Wallet aims to offer a variety of functionalities for its users, including the ability to store and manage loyalty cards, make purchases, and more. Here’s a look at some expected features based on the early app preview:

  • Loyalty Integration: Users will potentially be able to load their loyalty cards from local brands like Air India, State Bank of India, and PVR Inox.
  • Purchase Capabilities: The app will facilitate various types of transactions, enhancing the digital shopping experience.

Despite the planned expansion, Google Wallet is currently not available for download in India, although some reports, such as from the Indian outlet Beebom, suggest that certain functionalities have been operational for some users within the country.

Google Pay vs. Google Wallet in India
FeatureGoogle PayGoogle Wallet
FrameworkUnified Payments Interface (UPI)Digital wallet platform
Primary FunctionDirect payments, bill paymentsStore loyalty cards, make purchases
Market PositionSecond most used UPI app in IndiaNewly introduced
IntegrationExtensive with local businessesInitial integrations with major brands
Transaction Volume5 billion transactions in MarchNot available

The decision to run Google Wallet alongside Google Pay can be seen as a strategic move to capture different segments of the market. By differentiating the services, Google can cater to both the traditional needs of UPI-based transactions and the modern demand for a digital wallet that offers more than just payment functionalities.

Moreover, the persistence of Google Pay, supported by the government-backed UPI framework, and the introduction of Google Wallet reflect Google’s adaptive strategies in one of its most crucial markets. This dual approach may also signify Google’s intent to test the waters with Google Wallet without disrupting the already successful Google Pay ecosystem.

As Google Wallet prepares to enter the Indian market, its success will depend heavily on its ability to integrate effectively with local services and meet the diverse needs of Indian consumers. With its significant Android user base, India represents a critical market for Google’s financial services aspirations. The unfolding of Google Wallet’s adoption and its impact on Google Pay will be crucial indicators of Google’s ability to innovate and adapt in one of the world’s most dynamic digital economies.

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Featured Image courtesy of cartly

Yasmeeta Oon

Just a girl trying to break into the world of journalism, constantly on the hunt for the next big story to share.

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