Google Tez, India’s newest digital payment platform

After weeks of rumors, Google has officially released its payments app in India. Tez (Hindi for “fast”) is a mobile wallet that seems like a blend between Android Pay and PayPal. Users can link their bank accounts and use it to pay for items in physical stores and online. The app also lets you transfer money securely to nearby users by using sound to pair devices (what Google calls “Audio QR”). Unlike NFC, the tech works on any smartphone in India, whether Android or iOS. And, it keeps your account info private.

There are 300 million smartphone users in India, and phones with NFC are still relatively rare and expensive, with many users instead favoring entry-level and mid-tier devices. Tez is a step beyond Android Pay, because it allows users to link payment apps from Indian banks — it works with all of the country’s 55 banks on India’s Unified Payments Interface (UPI). UPI is a system that allows numerous bank accounts to be linked into one mobile app, and enables secure peer-to-peer payment. According to Bloomberg, digital transactions have surged after the Indian Government banned high-value cash notes late last year. Follow Spotlife Asia for the latest news and updates.

Tez currently supports several Indian banks using the government-backed Unified Payments Interface (UPI) for free mobile bank transfers. To get more businesses onboard, Google is introducing a new program for online sellers to integrate the service. Merchants that sign up for “Tez for Business” will also get their own “channels” inside the app, allowing direct access for quick payments and interactions via text. The app’s launch partners include a mixture of local transportation, cinema, flights, and cable TV providers. And, Domino’s for the pizza crowd. There is currently a ₹1,00,000 ($1,561) limit on daily transfers across UPI apps, and only 20 transfers are permitted per day.

Google is already working on increasing internet and smartphone penetration in India, courtesy of its Android One and Station Wi-Fi initiatives. By its own account, the country’s digital payments market will grow to $500 billion by 2020. And, Google evidently wants a slice of the pie.

Tez also facilitates bank-to-bank payments and is protected by Tez Shield, a data security platform from Google that detects fraud and protects user identity. Tez behaves like a chat app, using your contact list as a way to keep transaction history organized. People or businesses you’ve sent or received cash from grouped together “like a conversation,” Google says.

The company says small businesses can also use the app to accept payments into their bank accounts, and it also accepts payments from mobile sites with “just a few taps.” Tez is available on both Android and iOS, and Google plans to release the app in other emerging countries including Vietnam, Indonesia, and Thailand.