Technology giant Google on Monday launched a new digital payments app ‘Tez’ — meaning fast in Hindi — for the Indian market that aims to make e- transactions simple and secure.
The app has been designed for the Indian market and is powered by the government’s Unified Payments Interface (UPI). Available for both Android and iOS (Apple phone) users, it allows users to make payments straight from their bank accounts.
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“This is a product that is made for India. There are areas where India will leapfrog the West and one such case is payments and commerce,” Caesar Sengupta, Google V-P (Next Billion Users), said. He added that Tez (7MB in size) will be available in seven Indian languages, including Bengali and Tamil, to enable users across the country to easily use the app. There has been an increase in adoption of digital payments in the country, especially after the government’s move to ban high-denomination currency.
Mobile wallets like Paytm and payments through credit and debit cards saw a surge. In the past few months, companies like Flipkart, Ola and Uber have embraced UPI to allow users to pay through the new medium on their respective apps. “Our primary competitor is cash. The focus is on getting more people to use digital payments instead of cash. There is plenty of room for many players,” Diana Layfield, Google V-P, Head of Finance and Commerce Products (Next Billion Users), said when asked how the company intended to compete with Alibaba-backed Paytm.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who launched the app, expressed hope that digital payment is going to pick up momentum as more advanced technology hits the market. A lot of people went in for digitisation in terms of mode of payment more out of compulsion rather than finding it a more convenient method to transact, but that compulsion created a habit for many, he said, adding that it “is now bound to pick up again”.
Rajan Anandan, V-P South East Asia and India for Google, highlighted that 300 million of the 400 million accessing Internet in India do so on their smartphones. “Over 650 million are expected to use Internet by 2020 and Google’s mission is to build an inclusive Internet,” Anandan added. Sengupta said there are no plans to monetise the app in coming months and the focus is on growing usage.
Google also plans to integrate wallets and cards on the Tez platform in coming months. It will also give scratch cards to users worth up to Rs 1,000 on transactions above Rs 50. Besides, Google is working with businesses like PVR and redbus that will allow customers to pay using Tez. It is in discussion with other businesses on getting them on board as well. In the next few months, players like Lava, Micromax, XOLO, Nokia and Panasonic will introduce devices with Tez pre-embedded on them.
Besides, Google has partnered with four banks — Axis Bank, HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank and State Bank of India (SBI) — as its key partners for the service. However, customers of over 50 banks that are present on the UPI platform will be able to use the service. The app also has a ‘Cash Mode’ feature that allows one to pay without sharing bank details or phone number.
Based on the audio QR code technology — like Near Field Communication — the users are connected through their phone’s microphone and speaker and then they can complete the transaction. Google’s machine learning-based fraud detection engine and multiple levels of security ensure that all transactions on the platform are secure, Sengupta claimed.
Asked if Tez would be launched in other countries, Sengupta said the product is right now focussed on the Indian market. “While there is nothing like UPI in other countries, there are markets that are similar to India like Indonesia and others. We will see the response that we get in India and these learnings can be used in other places,” he added.