Last month, Google announced a plan to merge its Checkout and Wallet electronic payment services into a single product for both Web browsers and mobile devices. The announcement of the combined product, which will use the Wallet name, comes more than five years after the launch of Checkout, which back then was seen by some as a potential "PayPal killer". Checkout never came close to fulfilling that prediction, becoming instead a payment system primarily for Google sites. However, Google hasn't given up on the e-payments market and has high expectations for Wallet. IDG News Service recently had a chance to chat with Osama Bedier, the company's Payments vice president, about Google's plans for Wallet and vision of the e-payments market. An edited version of the interview follows.
IDG News Service: Why is Google in the online payments market?
Osama Bedier: Payments has always been a friction point to commerce in the history of the world -- it has led to less commerce. In the digital world, our native home, we need to remove the friction in digital payments. It's a problem we don't believe has been solved. So it's in our interest and in the whole industry's interest for this problem to be solved. We have a unique ability to help get this solved in a way that is complementary to the existing ecosystem of players as opposed to just competitive.
Consumers don't look at the web and mobile as separate channels from the physical buying experience anymore. They look at it as a continuum. They start their shopping experience online on a website, save a few things to a basket, and then they may want to pull up those things in the retailer's mobile app. They may want to buy the products on the phone and pick them up at the store, or show up at the store and find a list of things they saw online.
We want to ease that experience with a single wallet that works online, on mobile, offline, that has all those instruments that can be used in all of those places the same way, that keeps track not only of your payments and payment history and enabling those in the simplest way possible but also ensuring that you can save money with offers and retain your loyalty status with club cards and rewards regardless of where that experience happens. That is a big gap that needs to be filled. The idea of the Wallet is to let you save time and money across those channels.
IDGNS: Why did you decide to merge Wallet and Checkout? Wallet was only introduced a few months ago and its reach is pretty limited right now.
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