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Google takes on WhatsApp, launches chat option in payments app Tez

Google takes on WhatsApp, launches chat option in payments app Tez
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In a move to up the ante against WhatsApp’s payments feature, search engine giant Google has introduced a chat option in its recently released UPI-based payments app Google Tez, a report in a financial daily stated.

The update will allow users to not only transact with one another but also to chat with others while making payments, The Economic Times reported. 

“We’ve added a feature to Tez that allows you to send simple messages back and forth to your contacts about the payments you make,” ET quoted a Google spokesperson as saying.

Tez operates atop the Unified Payments Interface, developed by the National Payments Corporation of India. It can be used where UPI payments are accepted.

In December 2017, Google said that the Tez app recorded 12 million active users in just 10 weeks since its launch in India and that it will start offering bill payments. The app processed more than 140 million transactions since its September launch, Caesar Sengupta, vice president of product management at Google, has said at an event at that time.

“Tez contributed to 53% of all UPI transactions in October and 73% in November. In addition, Tez has brought 5.25 lakh merchants on its platform,” he said.

Sengupta also said that the app was getting a new feature in the form of ‘Bill Pay’. “Tez will remind users when a bill is due, and users will never pay the same bill twice as the status will be automatically updated. More than 70 billers will be supported, including utilities and direct-to-home service providers,” he said.

Google has introduced its Tez chat option at a time when Paytm founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma last month triggered a controversy over WhatsApp's upcoming payments feature. He claimed that the NPCI had bent the rules to suit the Facebook-owned company. 

Paytm had also introduced a chat feature similar to Tez in August last year. Early last year, another homegrown messaging platform Hike rolled out an in-app electronic payments service to cash in on rising digital transactions in India. 

However, several industry experts feel that the payments space in India still has many opportunities despite the entry of Tez and similar platforms. Last year, Vivek Belgavi, FinTech leader at PwC India, told VCCircle that there is no threat for domestic players, mainly because firms like Paytm have become more than just remittance companies. 

“Google and WhatsApp would largely play in the remittance area. Paytm does merchant acquisitions and they have merchant solutions. They now have an e-commerce story as well. Besides, they are acquiring offline merchants. That’s not the thing WhatsApp or Google would do,” he explained.

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