Google launches Tez, a new digital payment app for India; here’s everything you need to know

Google has jumped into the crowded and fiercely competitive digital payments space in India, and launched a new digital payments app – Tez. Tez, which means ‘fast’ in Hindi, is a UPI-based app that can be used for online transactions, as well as paying offline at stores.

UPI (Unified Payments Interface) was launched by National Payments Corporation of India, an umbrella organization for all retail payment systems in India. While NPCI is a private entity, it is regulated by the country’s central bank – Reserve Bank of India.

According to the company, all transactions on Tez are secured by ‘Tez Shield’ that detects fraud, prevents hacking, and verifies identity. The company has partnered with HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank, Axis Bank, and State Bank of India for the backend.

Google already has several partners like RedBus, PVR Cinemas, Domino’s Pizza, DishTV, and Jet Airways which would accept payments via Tez along with payment gateways like BillDesk and ecommerce solutions like Shopify and PayU. There are also distribution partners – Nokia, Micromax, Lava, and Panasonic – that will probably pre-load Tez app on their upcoming devices. Google might also integrate Tez with its own suite of services, like Play Store, to enable payments.

Google also offers ‘Tez for Business’ that allows businesses to get their own Business Channels on the Tez app where they can engage directly with their customers to share offers and more.

Getting Started with Google Tez

Available as a standalone app on Android and iOS, Google Tez supports several regional languages, including Hindi, Bengali, Gujarati, Kannada, Marathi, Tamil, and Telugu. Tez is compatible with over 50 banks in the country that support UPI.

Like all UPI-based apps, Tez requires your phone number for adding a bank account. Once the number is verified via one-time password (OTP), the app will request the UPI VPA (Virtual Payment Address) if you’ve created one in the past, else take you through the process of creating a new ID. Next up, you’d be able to set up a PIN, and you’ll be good to go.

You would be able to see all your contacts who are using Tez on the app, and request or pay money.

How to make transactions using Google Tez

Like with all UPI-based apps, you can transfer money using the UPI address to anyone who has a UPI-supported bank account. Minimum transaction needs to be ₹50.

To start a transaction, you need to tap the blue icon. People you’ve transacted with recently will appear beside that icon and below that, there will be a listing of businesses.

The unique proposition from Google though is the ‘Cash Mode’ in Tez. It allows you to instantly transfer cash to anyone nearby without the need to share your contact or bank details (neither scanning a QR code), similar to sharing photos over Bluetooth for example.

The app produces a special audio signal which can be only read by another phone running the Tez app. As soon as the app detects a compatible device in proximity, the transaction channel opens, and you can enter the amount to send/receive the payment. Google clarifies that the transactions in this manner are completely encrypted and cannot be intercepted in the middle.

Summary

According to a study published by Google and research firm Boston Consultancy Group, India’s payments industry will grow to $500 billion by 2020. With Tez, Google aims to bite into this large, and growing, digital payments pie in India, but it is not early in the market.

Apart from several homegrown products like Paytm and Mobikwik and NPCI’s own BHIM app, international giants like Samsung are already there with mobile wallet and digital payment products. WhatsApp, the most popular messaging service in India with over 200 million active users, also plans to introduce a payment platform soon.