Google has added a new feature to its Google Pay Send platform allowing users to transfer money to their Google Contacts. The feature has been introduced through a server-side update, appearing for some users in the form of a new ‘Send’ icon in their Contacts page, though it isn’t yet clear that the feature is actually functional.
It’s part of a byzantine renovation of Google’s payments platforms. A similar money transfer feature appeared in the Android Messages app last November; and last month, Google rebranded its Android Pay mobile payments service as the new Google Pay, while its Google Wallet digital wallet became Google Pay Send. It looks like Google is aiming to ultimately integrate Google Pay Send into Google Pay, but for whatever reason the company has opted to go with a confusing, incremental approach in the meantime.
The simplest way to look at this latest move is to understand it as a kind of response to Apple Pay Cash, Apple’s new text message-based peer-to-peer payments service. That system essentially lets Apple device users text money to each other; similarly, Google is trying to let its own users transfer money to each other through its own platforms. As users increasingly perform transactions digitally, and mobile wallets replace cash, each of these companies is trying to make sure that those activities are happening as much as possible through their own channels.
For Google, that’s not going to happen overnight, given the complexity of its payments ecosystem. But the new Google Pay Send feature is the latest step in a consolidation of the Google Pay brand, which could pay off down the line.