During the last week rumors of Google developing an online-payment system (Google Wallet) to rival PayPal surfaced (First on Wall Street Journal then everywhere like:SlashDot, SearchBlog, and The Unofficial Google Weblog) and then had a offical confirmation, by Google CEO Eric Schmidt which was interesting for want wasn’t said:
“We do not intend to offer a person-to-person stored-value payments system.”
“The payment services we are working on are a natural evolution of Google’s existing online products and advertising programs which today connect millions of consumers and advertisers.”
“We are building products in the area to solve new problems in ecommerce.”
Lots of wiggle room there.
Not be a P2P (person to person) PayPal system, but that still leaves B2B (Business to Business ) and C2B (Consumer to Business). Remember that Google runs a Advertising Solutions Business (AdWords and AdSense) and a shopping search tool Froogle.
So how about allowing consumers to to make on line purchases for its ~200,000 Froogle merchants? Currently Froogle’s revenue is from advertising on it’s site.
How about enabling AdWords advertisers to AdSense web publishers transactions (B2B)?
How about enabling consumers to buy from those AdWords advertisers? Advertising without allow them to buy (or do something) seems silly.
How about addressing the risks perceived by consumers in giving out credit card numbers to a company you have never heard of (in a place you have never heard of). Would you be more willing to buy on line if you had a Internet based debit card system (transfer a fix amount of value from your bank or credit card) from a trusted name (Google)? Would you be more likely to buy from unknown merchants (without giving your credit card number to) that have also been vetted by a trusted name (Google)? (with money held in escrow until received?). PayPal is to weird and small for many non ebay consumers or non ebay merchants. The banks and credit card companies have been doing a awful job of improving the risk perceptions of the public.
How about avoiding the “stored-value payments system” part and enable disposable credit card numbers (sometimes called “One-time use”) that back end to your choice of any credit cards/banks/other with Google providing google id verification to the Business, and the Google Wallet protocol universal button to consumers? (Maybe something like Jon Udell’s Password generator or the GreaseMonkey version I use)
How about doing interbank-based Interac Email Money Transfers (as done by CertaPay in Canada) which would lower the barrier of entry for consumers in a Internet debit scheme?
Could Google be thinking about the holy grail of ecommerce? : a Micro Content payment system, if the transaction costs are sub penny and the volume huge, becomes possible.
I came across Payment News in the course of researching this.
Also it’s worth re-reading How Google beat Amazon and Ebay to the Semantic Web for a big picture look.