Google Tez: All you need to know about this 'made for India' payment app

Jaitley in Google Tez app launch. Photo: Karan Choudhary
In a bid to tap India's rapidly-growing digital payments market, Google has launched its ‘Tez’ application. Built on the government-backed Unified Payment Interface (UPI) platform, the app will allow users to securely pay for goods and services both online and offline, and also make person-to-person transactions.

Digital payments have got a huge push post the government's demonetisation exercise in November last year. According to government estimates, digital economy has the potential to go up to $1trillion in the next few years. Finance minister Arun Jaitley, who launched Tez, observed that during November, December and January a lot of people made digital payments more out of compulsion than finding it a more convenient method to transact. But that compulsion created a habit for many, he said. "We reached a peak figure (after the demonetisation), then it marginally slipped and is now bound to pick up again," Jaitley said.

"Now, the time has come with the application as simple as this that what started as compulsion becomes a matter of convenience and eventually a matter of spending habit as far as Indian people are concerned," said Jaitley.

Google's Indian-born CEO Sundar Pichai on Tuesday also tweeted that Tez would help India move closer to digital transformation. Read more here

Read our entire coverage on Google Tez below:

1. What is Google Tez?

Tez, which means fast in Hindi, is a standalone payments app that can be downloaded on Android and iOS devices. Designed in a chat-like interface, Google has released Tez on both Android and iOS platforms. It is based on UPI -- a payments protocol built by government-backed National Payment Corporation of India (NPCI).

Apart from English and Hindi, "Tez" app supports various Indian languages such as Bengali, Gujarati, Marathi, Kannada, Tamil and Telugu.

Google has partnered with four banks — Axis Bank, HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank and State Bank of India (SBI) — for the solution. While they will be exclusive platform partners, Tez will work with all 55 banks who are on the UPI platform.

Tez is similar to NPCI’s own BHIM app, currently, the most used UPI payments app in India.

2. Here's what you can do with Google Tez

The user interface is fairly simple and the user is asked to sign into the application using the mobile number that is registered with the bank account.

The user then receives an OTP via SMS and the registration is completed after an email id is provided.

The app lets the user pay bills, send money and receive payments directly into their bank accounts (after the app is linked to their bank account to verify ownership).

There is also an option to send a text message from their registered phone number through Google "Tez" app.

Google also announced "Tez for Business" which offers businesses new ways to unlock the potential of digital payments and engage their customers.

"Tez for Business" merchants get their own business channel on the app where they can engage directly with their customers to share offers, send payment reminders, link to their mobile website or customer support, and more.

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3. Google Tez's slow start, hundreds give one-star rating

Tez (fast) turned slow on the first day of its launch, 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 for the service. A team at Google India was working round the clock to identify and fix bugs that users were unearthing. (Read our full coverage on Google Tez's slow start here)

4. Can Tez be a game changer?

According to D D Mishra, Research Director, Gartner, Tez provides promising features which are in-line with the requirements. "It is too early to say whether it can be a game changer as evolution in this business is going to continue, but yes it has the capabilities to bring some disruption as of now," Mishra said in a statement.

Moreover, 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.

"The mobile wallet industry too, is evolving and we are at an interesting stage in this competition. Eventually, UPI payments will have an upper hand if it continues to remain free and provide better security, convenience and add more Value Added Services," Mishra informed.

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.

5. Caesar Sengupta, the vice-president for product development at Google speaks to Business Standard:

In an interview with Karan Chaudhary, Sengupta talked about Google Tez being focussed on India, the companies' partnership with major e-commerce players, travel portals, cashbacks and a lot more.

Speaking of the app, Sengupta said, "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."

(Read the entire interview here)

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