The mobile wallet industry is evolving and we are at an interesting stage in this competition but with poor internet connectivity in India, digital payments still poses a challenge in the country and users are also not comfortable with online transactions. Another hindrance comes in the form of security and people need to confident enough that their money is safe. After becoming the default search engine in India, Google has launched Tez, a simple and secure mobile app for digital payments and commerce which is built on Unified Payments Interface (UPI) and allows users, free of charge, to make small or big payments straight from their bank accounts. The app is available now for download on Google Play (Android) and the App Store (iOS).
Tez provides promising features which are in line with the requirements and is multilingual. And while it is too early to say whether it can be a game changer, as evolution in this business is going to continue, but yes it has the capabilities to bring some disruption as of now. It will all depend on how fast Google can build an ecosystem of partnerships around it and continue to sustain innovations.
Tez differs from other mobile wallets like PayTM as it does not require any constant top up like in PayTM’s wallet that needs to be topped up to use the money. Instead, Tez works with all 50+ UPI-enabled banks, so that money stays in users’ bank accounts until they need to use it. Unlike PayTM that earns interest on the users’ money that’s stored in the wallet, Tez users will continue to earn interest from their banks and have their deposits backed by bank security guarantees. There is no need to reload a digital wallet.
Tez works in partnership with four Banks — Axis Bank, HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank, and State Bank of India (SBI) — to facilitate the processing of payments across over 50 UPI enabled banks.
While many mobile wallets use NFC, Tez uses ultrasonic Audio QR technology to pair two devices together and transfer money. The AQR works on both Android and iOS. The audio is inaudible to the human ear and can quickly connect the two devices to transfer information such as bank details, email addresses, or even phone numbers.
Tez’s Cash Mode feature relies on AQR technology. By pressing and holding the Cash Mode buttons at the same time, two people using Tez are able to make a secure transaction in seconds without needing to share private details like phone numbers or account numbers.
Tez UI is also different from other wallets as Tez gets synced with the contact list in users’ phones, in accordance with their privacy settings. This allows users to start a transaction just by searching for a friend’s name or phone number. Once a contact is on Tez, users do not have to add beneficiaries or enter bank account number and IFSC codes. If the other person is not on Tez or in the phone contact list, then users can still pay them with their bank account number or UPI ID, a feature absent in almost all digital wallets.
Transaction history with each person is grouped together like a conversation — just like how Gmail groups emails together. This makes it easier to find a particular transaction, instead of going through long statements.
With each eligible transaction, Tez users have the opportunity to win Tez Scratch Cards worth up to Rs 1,000 and are enrolled for the weekly Lucky Sundays draw of Rs 1 lakh, something no other digital wallets like Paytm are not offering. When a Tez user wins, as per applicable terms and conditions, rewards go straight into the user’s bank account.
Tez is backed by multiple security levels, including dedicated security systems offered by Indian banks, the NPCI, and the Tez Shield — Google’s suite of security features, including a machine-learning-based fraud detection engine, device level protection, including a Google PIN, and no sharing of phone numbers or bank account numbers via Cash Mode. Customer service is available 24/7.
Google in coming weeks will also be integrating Tez with Google Maps so that when users search for a place, Maps can suggest stores in that area that accept Tez.
Within 24 hours of the launch, 1.8 crore gross merchandise volume (GMV) has been done with over four lakh active users on Tez.
For money transfers, there is a limit of Rs 1,00,000 in one day across all UPI apps, and users can make 20 transfers in a day.
Google will need to keep adding new innovative services on top of it to continue to differentiate and build an ecosystem quickly to succeed. It is expected to face competition from UPI and wallet applications who are also working on similar initiatives.