Everyone has a smartphone in their pocket these days, so it makes sense to pay for things with it. That̵
Google relaunched Google Pay at the end of 2020 and a lot of new features were added. Not only can the app be used to make payments on the go, but it can now also be your personal banking solution. Google Pay can be as powerful or as simple as you want, depending on what you want to use. Let’s dive in.
Note: Google Pay is available for Android phones, tablets and iPhones. However, tap-to-pay for mobile payments is only available for Android devices.
Before relaunch, Google Pay was mainly used for mobile payments. This is still a big part of what the service is about. By adding your credit, debit, or loyalty cards to the app, you can tap your phone to contactless readers to make payments. You don’t have to take a card out of your wallet or purse.
After you add payment methods to Google Pay, you can use them in other areas as well. The app has a food ordering section that works with over 100,000 restaurants. There is also a section for payments at gas stations without touching the pump. All of this can be found on the main “Payment” tab in the app.
The next big thing Google Pay can do is peer-to-peer money transfers. If you’ve heard of Venmo, it’s a very similar feature. You can send and receive money to and from other people using Google Pay.
Groups can also be created with Google Pay. So when you give a gift with other people, you can all sit in a group and keep track of who paid or didn’t pay. This is also a great feature for roommates (and other people who often share bills) to use.
Each of the one-to-one or group payments takes place in a chat room-like user interface. So you can talk to the other people about what you pay for, who still has to pay, etc. Everything can be handled in the app.
Offers and discounts
Google Pay has an ‘Explore’ tab to find deals and discounts. Many of these ‘deals’ are cash back offers that are refunded to your Google Pay account. You can transfer the money from Google Pay if you want to use it elsewhere.
Where these deals get interesting is the ability to sign up for Google’s algorithm to analyze your transactions and personalize the offers. With Google, you can try the feature for three months and then decide whether to keep using it.
When you find a deal you like, you can “Activate” it and link it to one of your cards. It is automatically applied to your account when you use that card to make a purchase from the business.
Another part of the “Explore” tab is a QR code scanner at the top of the page. When you shop in a store, you can scan an item and Google Shopping will show you the prices of the item in other stores.
The last tab in Google Pay is called ‘Insights’. Here you can add a bank or credit card account and have Google provide financial information.
The idea of the Insights tab is a similar concept to that of Mint and Simplifi. After you link your accounts, Google Pay will start showing reports on your spending habits, upcoming bills and much more.
If you’re already comfortable with giving Google access to your personal accounts, you might be happy to learn that it can also scan Gmail and Google Photos for receipts. This information is then sent to Google Pay and added to your financial reports. Since this is a Google product, it also has powerful search capabilities.
From 2021, Google will introduce “Google Plex”, which allows you to create a bank account directly in the Google Pay app. It will support eleven banks and credit unions at launch. There are no monthly fees, overdrafts or minimum balance requirements.
How about privacy?
Privacy has always been a major concern when it comes to Google products, and the company is well aware of this. Google has implemented a number of things to hopefully address all of these concerns.
Perhaps most importantly, many of the features we’ve already mentioned are explicitly opted in. That means they will only be enabled if you decide to enable them during the initial setup. You don’t have to sign up for something you are not aware of by simply installing the app.
If you don’t want to enable these extra features, you can only use Google Pay for tap-to-pay (Android only) or peer-to-peer payments.
Additionally, Google says they don’t sell or share the data it collects about you in Google Pay with third parties. It also doesn’t use the data for targeted advertising on other Google services. And as mentioned earlier, you have the choice to sign up for personalized offers.
All in all, Google Pay is a feature-packed service, but it can be as complex or as simple as you’d like. If you enable all features, it can replace apps like Venmo, PayPal, Mint, Simplifi and others. Or it could be a simple mobile payments and peer to peer payments app. The choice is yours.