Google Tez makes utility bill payment simple, adds woes to incumbents including Paytm

Google Tez

In a move that could put further pressure on existing payment players in India, tech behemoth Google payments app Tez has launched a specially designed experience that lets user pay bills in quick time. The payment firm has on-boarded around 90 merchants onto its platform.

Tez, on its blog, claims to provide support for more than 80 billers, including national and state electricity providers, gas, water, and DTH recharge. These include billers like Reliance Energy, BSES and DishTV, and in total will cover all states and major metros in India.

Tez also supports Bharat BillPay system, which lets you fetch the latest bill from your providers. Diana Layfield, vice president of product management at Google in an interview to Mint had said that they want to make the payment quickly and simply. Among the major problems, the company aims to provide cash mode, the pairing of phones and the transactions offline, and clumsy-free online payment method.

Besides, Unified Payments Interface (UPI), Tez also allows payments by connecting devices using audio. It had reported registering over 7.5 million users and 30 million transactions within five weeks of its launch.

Tez’s entry into this category is expected to disrupt the space as higher incentives offered by the company will see users changing loyalties to gain additional discounts.

Google Tez has made this move at a time when home-grown existing payment firms like Paytm and Flipkart-owned PhonePe are already facing the heat to tackle entry of WhatsApp into the payment space.

This month, WhatsApp had launched its payments service on trial. A Facebook-owned messaging app is expected to introduce the service to its entire user base soon.

Reacting to the development, Paytm founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma had alleged that WhatsApp was flouting rules and putting consumers at risk because it was skipping steps in the payments process.

In addition to the allegation that WhatsApp was restricting access to other UPI-based platforms, Sharma blamed Mark Zuckerberg-led company for trying cheap tactics to promote its payments product.

Over the years, Paytm’s rise of the digital payments business after demonetisation has helped it to become the country’s second-most valuable online startup, with a valuation of around $10 billion, after Flipkart. However, the scenario might not remain the same for long, especially after the arrival of global and deep-pocketed players like WhatsApp and Google Tez.

Recently, the Flipkart-owned payment platform PhonePe claimed that it will cross Rs 80,000 crore in terms of total payment volume (TPV) annual run rate by next month and will be a top payment company in the country.

Whatsapp too claims to have ready user base advantage against the domestic competitors in the country. The messaging app claims to have over 250 million monthly active users. In comparison, Paytm’s wallet user base is reportedly around 200 million.

A better user interface will also play a big role, where all the existing payment players are spending loads of money, drawing in more users. This is where global players like Google Tez and WhatsApp, which boast of better technology, might edge out the local players.

Another global player PayPal too had reportedly tied up with a dozen merchants to start of its operations in India.

While the answer to the question, who will end up transforming India’s digital payment space may take longer, the segment certainly has been bracing for fierce and interesting competition.

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