This week, we heard some interesting news coming from Google. In short, Google were rumored to be working on a new way to pay for your goods using your mobile phone. Now, there are only so many ways you can use your phone but this one sounded much more novel than most we have heard before. According to the rumor, you will simply be able to walk up to a cashier in your local Papa Johns (not sure why you didn’t order online, but anyway), say your initials and hey presto, your goods are paid for. If you are wondering how, then we all are. But it seems you will have to be enrolled on the service (which is currently being dubbed as ‘Plaso’) and as long as your mobile is in your pocket, then once you approach the cashier, their systems will recognize all the nearby enrolled devices, you say your initials to verify your mobile, they click the relevant device on their screen and kerching, payment has been made.
In fairness to google, this does indeed sound like a novel and quite creative way to utilize smartphone payments. That said, does it sound like a realistic option? How likely will we want to stand in a store and say our initials each time we want to make a payment? How secure will it be if the person in the queue beside us, hears our initials and says the same to their cashier while we are in range? Will we then be charged? What if by chance, someone nearby has the same initials? These are all the questions that immediately spring to mind, not to mention the others that will come if it is thought about more indepthly. The truth is, it just does not sound like a proper, workable or realistic concept. And this is Google’s problem. This is not their first attempt at trying to entice us (and retailers) to use our mobile phones for payments. Google, like Apple, like the banks, like the retailers, all understand that mobile payments are the future. They are inevitable. So to get in there now (while the market is open) is crucial. It is the difference between being a leader and well, not being in the game at all.
Not to mention, time has become even more of the essence recently, as Apple seemed to have certainly cemented their position in the market with Apple Pay. Retailers and banks are jumping over each other to partner with Apple. But not with Google. There is a couple of obvious reasons for this. Firstly, lots of businesses use Apple products (especially in the U.S) in their everyday running of their businesses. As such, the decision to go with Apple is rather straightforward. That said, Google were first through the door with this, so why were they not already in those same retailers and banks? Well, partly because the trust in Google from financial institutions is simply not there. Google have made it no secret, that they intend to track payments (for obvious reasons) and financial institutions (for obvious reasons) do not like that idea so much. Not to mention, if the banks are not onboard then why would the retailers (who bank with them) be inclined? This is the knock-on effect of trying too hard and too much, too quickly.
Google seems to be so desperate and so keen to make sure they have their foot in the door with mobile payments, that they are missing the fact that when it comes to money, safety is paramount. While Google continues to fumble in this manner, companies like Apple will walk up and walk through that door Google has currently propped open. This will probably lead to the inevitable situation, where once Apple is in every shop, bank, restaurant and the likes, then there will be no need for these same shops, banks, restaurants and the likes to bother employing the tools of another company, like Google or Square? The bottom line is that they won’t.
The bottom line is that they won’t. This is probably why Google is trying so hard to think more outside of the box. To look for easier ways for us consumers to pay, like using our initials. The logic being, if we want it (because it is easier for us) then the industry will want it too. But Google are forgetting that golden rule. When it comes to money (or our identity/information/data etc) we do not want ‘easier’, we want ‘safer’. Whatever Google decide to do, they need to do it quickly, as the door they are currently propping open is slowly closing again.