Alphabet Inc.’s Google Inc. on Wednesday re-launched its U.S. payment app, introducing paid promotions to the service and opening waiting lists for bank accounts to be rolled out next year by Citigroup and 10 other institutions. The new Google Payment app, like the previous app, which will eventually be discontinued, supports contactless payments and transfers in the store.
But now, users can trade with some people, search for deals, view analytics, and explore cashback offers from merchants such as Burger King and Target Corp.
Google will receive a commission from these promotions, opening up a small new revenue channel for the advertising giant. The company said the deal would not affect ads that users see on other Google services.
The new feature puts Google Pay in the U.S. on par with Google Pay in India. Mobile payments are the norm in India and have intensified the global battle between technology companies, businesses and banks for consumers and their financial data.
Caesar Sengupta, who is in charge of Google’s payments program, said: “Our goal is to be a versatile app that delivers more value to users and controls their money. Google Pay already has more than 150 million monthly users in 30 countries.
Alibaba Group, Apple, Samsung and PayPal have also launched mobile wallets aimed at becoming shopping and banking centers that have been competing with each other for security and other features.
Google, for example, says its web search technology makes its apps more budget-friendly and transaction-filtering, finding sub-categories such as “Mexican restaurants” or “t-shirts.”
Google says the new app is available at more than 100,000 restaurants, 30,000 gas stations and parking meters in 400 cities in the United States.
Google began talking about adding bank accounts a year ago, but didn’t start soliciting customers for the service, called Plex, until Wednesday. Starting next year, partners such as Citi will start checking and savings accounts that do not charge a monthly fee, overdraft fee or minimum balance.
Citigroup said Wednesday that users of CitiPlex will be able to use its 60,000 ATMs across the country for free. This is the first time Citi has bundled savings and checking accounts.
Jane Fraser, Citi’s incoming chief executive, said: “This partnership provides us with a platform to significantly expand retail banking. “
The latest Plex partners include Green Dot Corp, Seattle Bank, and The Harbor Bank of Maryland.
One of their goals, says Mr Singupta, is to “game up savings and make it more interesting.” “