Due to the COVID-19 outbreak and everything else that followed, you’d be forgiven if you missed the recent massive relaunch of Google’s money app – Google Pay. With all the updates and an impressive array of new features, the redesigned app takes the lead as one of the most convenient when it comes to managing your finances. Focused on your relationships with both businesses and people, it will enable you to complete your daily financial tasks seamlessly. It is available for both iOS and Android, so let us dive deeper into the future of digital banking and what we can expect.
Even More to Come
Before we move to all the new features, let’s just say that they’re a curtain-raiser for the main attraction – Google’s Plex service, which will launch in 2021.
The pandemic has caused a huge rise in the use of online payments. These days people try to avoid crowded places such as banks, post offices, shopping malls, and use contactless payments as much as possible. Entertainment has also moved to the internet, so online payments are used for watching movies, listening to music, and playing games. Online casino players are the ones most looking for new payment methods since they need a reliable and fast platform for depositing money and raising their winnings. Given all of the above, it seems that this mobile-first bank account is precisely what we’ve been waiting for.
Plex is a new banking service that will engage directly with an online bank and allow you to handle basic savings and checking in the app. This doesn’t mean that Google will be offering banking services directly – it will allow some banks to use Google Pay as a banking app proxy, as it were. There are already 11 partnering credit unions and banks on that list, so it’ll be easy to make your pick, and (as stated) there won’t be minimum balances, overdraft charges, or monthly fees. On top of that, it will also have a feature called ʽgoalsʼ that will allow you to set up repeating tasks such as transferring money to your savings account.
Now that we know what the future brings, let’s take a look at the features that are available.
Three Tabs to Rule Them All
While the previous Google Pay was primarily used for making credit card payments, this new version provides you with a holistic picture of your finances, combining those payments and insights. And all that is displayed through a brand new user experience design.
It all comes down to three new tabs – Pay, Explore, and Insights – but they’re truly everything you’ll need. Google is not making a high-profile push into their competitors’ market by introducing strictly new services. Some of them have already existed for quite a while, but this is the first time it’s all unified in a single money app. This is what made Google a direct competitor to numerous other services and apps like Shop, Truebil, Simplifi, Intuit’s Mint, Square Cash, Venmo, Samsung Pay, Apple Pay, PayPal, etc. With the launch of Plex, they’ll also take on online banks, such as Ally.
Let’s take a closer look at the app itself.
HOME is to PAY
The home tab doubles as the Pay tab. From it, you can pay (via existing services peer-to-peer and tap-to-pay), but also check past transactions and find loyalty info and offers. You’re also able to tap on any contacts icons to get a chat-like view of all your transactions.
Another useful feature is setting up group payments, where multiple people in a chat can request and send money to each other, which would be quite handy for splitting restaurant bills, amongst other things.
Besides people, you also have a list of all the businesses you’ve used Google Pay with. Once you open it, you’ll also see the transactions in a chat-like view. In this section, you’re also able to see credits and spendings by viewing loyalty cards from retailers.
Lastly, this tab also enables you to pay for parking, buy gas, and order food – all inside the app.
LEFT is to EXPLORE
Instead of searching promo codes online or clipping physical coupons, the explore tab allows you to redeem offers and save money directly from the app. Google aggregates deals for you since you can load numerous offers from brands such as Target, Etsy, Burger King, etc. Generic offers will surface here by default, but if you set the options allowing Google’s algorithms to analyze your transaction(s), you can customize them. Just tapping ʽActivateʼ on any offer, you can associate it with any credit card you’ve stored in the app, which means that redeeming that offer will be automatic.
The Google lens technology also allows you to scan QR codes and barcodes on this tab, providing you with more information about products and their cost. You and your friends are also able to scan each other’s barcodes so there’s no need for exchanging contact details when sending money to one another.
RIGHT is for INSIGHTS
The right tab holds a lot of your financial information in one place, and it combines search with what Google does best – processing data with algorithms. Once your credit and banking accounts are connected, the Insights tab will show you upcoming bills, your savings, and your spendings. There’s no need for manual entry and categorization as the app will scan through your transactions.
Besides the fact it works with standard credit and debit cards, savings, and checkings, you can also allow the app to access your Google Photos and Gmail account. It will auto-scan them for receipts using OCR technology and integrate everything into your finance tracking.
It is natural for some privacy concerns to arise due to the app’s capabilities and the expansion of data collection. However, the current policy in place states the data won’t be sold to or shared with any third parties, nor will the rest of Google have access to your transaction history (for targeting ads). All the data it uses for analysis is heavily encrypted and there’s also a number of privacy setting options.
An additional layer of security exists, where you can’t access the app on the web or two mobile devices at the same time. When you want to pay someone outside your contacts list, the app will alert you before completing the payment, confirming the validity of the transaction.
The changes to Google Pay are undoubtedly ambitious and are paving the way for greater things to come. Any of these features is significant by itself, having them all in one place is certainly a huge leap forward for digital banking and a significant reinvention of this service.