Google Tez: Working with Shopify, PayU for online biz, says Caesar Sengupta

Caesar Sengupta
Google's Next Billion Users team has come up with Tez (Hindi for 'fast'), a new payments app they're trying in India. Caesar Sengupta, the vice-president for product development at the information technology giant and in charge of this effort, talks to Karan Choudhury on it and allied developments. Edited excerpts:

When will you take Tez to other markets?

Right now, we are focused on India and will make sure it works really well here. As we were designing the product, we were looking at different countries — Indonesia, Thailand — which have similar characteristics. (Such as) Low credit card penetration, low number of point of sale machines. So, at some point, we think what we have done here, with some changes (there is no UPI or United Payments Interface in those countries), will work well there. 

Was Android Pay launched in India?

We did not and it was a decision we took as we built Tez for India. Android Pay needs a credit card, it needs Near Field Communication (NFC). Neither is prevalent in India. We did not see any point in bringing a product which would target a limited audience. We are working together to bring a credit card but we will bring it in a different manner. But, there have been tonnes of learnings from Android Pay. Our security system is based on what we'd learnt from it.

Whom all have you tied up as merchant partners? Is the traction going to come from e-commerce and online players or bricks-and-mortar ones? 

We are working towards partnerships with major e-commerce players, travel portals. If you look at any online vendor, they have a number of payment options, and we expect to see Tez to show up. It is not only a payment option but an engagement tool which partners can use to get connected to clients.  

The traction in online space is going to be much faster but the real game here is offline. This (India) is still a 99 per cent offline economy. 

You are offering cashbacks like other mobile wallets. Is it to drive usage? Is it the first time you are incentivising the use of your services?

There is definitely an element of driving the usage. To create a new habit, you have to make it easier for users. We focused on building a product from our experience. We do give things like three months free usage of Google Play in certain markets. With products like these, where you need to create a habit, people need to be happy about it. Scratch cards (a type of cashback offer) are just a way of making the experience fun for users. 

How are you going ahead on tie-ups with mom and pop stores, small brick and mortar establishments?

We have deep relationships with advertisers and are reaching out to them. We are also working with Shopify, PayU and BillDesk, which are different kinds of aggregators, which will all bring more online businesses. Utility payments is one area where we are looking at, as there are regular recurring bills. 

When did you start developing the product? Are you going to connect Tez to BHIM (Bharat Interface for Money) or the Bharat QR code?

We have been working on this for a little over a year. In January, when we met Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, we showed him an early prototype. We are building on the shoulders of giants. UPI is an innovative and interesting platform that does not exist anywhere else in the world. It is part of the reason we were able to bring it to market so quickly. Bharat QR is part of UPI and as it evolves, we will keep evolving as well. BHIM is one part of UPI and, obviously, is tied integrally with that. We have complete inter-operability with BHIM and with any other UPI app. 

Are you talking to the railways, power distribution companies and other government bodies for tie-ups?

We are talking to all the partners. Over the next few weeks, we will ramp up these conversations.  

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