Move over, Western Union, there’s an easier way to send money now. According to Google’s Commerce blog, the tech company will soon let you send money to others simply by texting them. The new cash-transmitting feature comes courtesy of an update -- due to be released in a few days -- to the Google Wallet app.
Users who have the Google Wallet app on their iOS or Android devices will be able to send money via text to people in their contacts lists using nothing more than than their phone numbers. The intended recipients of such financial largesse will receive text messages with secure links. Those users can then enter their debit card numbers, and the money will appear in their bank accounts within minutes.
Lots of Wallet Support
Google Wallet was first launched in 2011 to allow users to pay for retail items by using the near field communication (NFC) chips in their smartphones. But since the debut of the Apple Pay app last year, Google has changed its strategy slightly. Wallet no longer supports NFC transactions the way Apple Pay does. Instead, the company launched a separate app called Android Pay earlier this year to handle NFC payments.
But it didn’t do away with Wallet, either. While Android Pay will most likely represent its competitor to Apple Pay, Google may be positioning its Wallet app as more of a competitor to other payment and fund transfer services, such as PayPal.
However, this development could still be bad news for Apple. Even though Wallet may not be directly competing with the Apple Pay app, the ability to send cash to individuals simply by texting is likely to act as a powerful inducement for smartphone buyers to stick with the Android ecosystem.
The company has been showing Wallet a lot of love in the past few weeks with a number of upgrades, including the ability to link a second bank account to the app. A new security feature, meanwhile, allows users to lock the Wallet app by tapping just one button. And Google has also rolled out a new and improved contacts suggestion, which allows users to see the people they send money to the most.
Pressure on Apple Pay
Google and Apple have established themselves as two of the biggest players in the new realm of digital financial transactions. But they're hardly alone. Retailing behemoth Wal-Mart announced yesterday that it will soon be launching a payment app of its own, while smartphone manufacturer Samsung has already come out with its own app, Samsung Pay. And if the field wasn’t crowded enough, both JPMorgan Chase and Merchant Customer Exchange are also working on payment apps.
That may be putting a considerable amount of pressure on Apple Pay, which wowed reviewers when it was first introduced last year. Today’s announcement from Google could push Apple into developing a similar capability for its Apple Pay app.