Can Google’s mobile wallet Tez revitalise India’s struggling digital payments industry?
For its first foray into mobile payments in Asia, Google couldn’t have picked a more uncertain market to test the water.
With the launch of Tez, a free mobile wallet in India that lets users link up their phones to their bank accounts, Google has joined a plethora of mobile wallets and e-payment services fighting for their share in the country’s rapidly digitising market. Available on Android and iOS, the app lets users pay for goods in stores and online and do person-to-person money transfers.
On the surface, India seems a natural choice: it’s a country with one billion people, nearly 50 per cent of whom are under 25, a rapidly growing urban middle class and an increasingly mobile savvy population.
Meanwhile, in the months immediately following Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s controversial demonetization policy last November, it seemed like India was on the cusp of a mobile payments revolution. The main mobile wallet player, Paytm, reached 200 million users by February this year, while the transaction value of the country’s Unified Payment Interface – a system that allows money transfer between any two bank accounts by using a smartphone – went up from US$15 million in November 2016 to $249 million in January 2017.
Photo courtesy of Erik Hersman.