:Rajan Anand Google India VP addresses at the launch of Tez, a Google built simple and secure mobile payments and commerce app built for India. Photo: PTI
Tez (fast), the India-specific payments app built by Google, turned slow on the first day of its launch on Monday, and this angered users, who complained that they could not sign up on the service.
Hundreds of users took to Twitter and other social networks to vent their displeasure, with a few of them even offering Tez a one-star rating on Google’s Play Store.
Within a few hours of its launch it had notched up close to 600 one-star ratings and only a little more than 700 five-star ratings.
A Google spokesperson told Business Standard that the large number of failed registrations were due to a surge in the number of users trying to sign up on the service. A team at Google India was working round the clock to identify and fix bugs that users were unearthing.
The launch was significant as Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley unveiled the app, highlighting that it tied in well with the government’s move to digitise payments and bring in more people into the formal economy.
Typically, Google releases products through public betas, helping them to iron out creases before making them available to the public. With Tez, Google has directly made the app available to every user of Android and iOS in India who has an account in any one of the 55 banks that support the United Payments Interface (UPI).
The issue of not having the bandwidth to handle a surge in installs is odd for an organisation such as Google, which has several services that have over a billion active users. Some experts speculate that it could be due to the inadequate infrastructure of the National Payments Corporation of India, through which all UPI transactions are routed.
With the launch of Tez, Google will become the latest high-profile entry in India's digital payments space. The company has beaten Facebook and its subsidiary WhatsApp from rolling out UPI based payment services and will go head to head with apps such as BHIM, PhonePe and even Paytm.
While off to the shaky start, analysts expect the entry of large players such as Google, Facebook, WhatsApp and Truecaller in the space to boost the number of UPI transactions in the country. Overall, this will help the country achieve its goal of curbing unaccounted payments and become a less-cash society.
Google, however, given its keen understanding of individuals, might have some advantages over rivals.
"Google's information about an individual's preferences can play a good role in enabling business to know their preferences and provide offers with interesting options. It tries to address security concerns as well," said D D Mishra, Research Director at Gartner, in an email statement.