The feature allows monetary transactions to be processed directly on Gmail and works in the same way as sending an attachment such as a photograph or document.
Google explains on its commerce blog that starting today, people in the UK will be able to “quickly and securely send money to friends and family” within desktop Gmail — even if the recipient uses a different email service.
Google writes: “We’re rolling out this feature over the coming weeks to all UK Gmail users over 18 years old, so keep an eye out for the £ icon in the attachment options.”
It’s easy to do:
When people want to process a transaction, they simply click on the “£” symbol, expected to appear in the UK today (it hasn’t popped up on my Gmail yet, but probably will soon).
Alongside a regular written message, users then enter the amount they want to send and attach the sum from their digital Google Wallet.
It’s all very easy. Google promotes the service as a tool to pay for group trips, pay friends back for weekend dinners, or even lend someone a bit of cash while they’re abroad. It champions the payment system as completely safe, quick, and simple.
At the other end, people “claim” money once they receive the figure — noted as a standard email. Before doing so, users have to first set up a “Google Wallet Balance” — basically linking the Google service with a debit or credit card. Money can be transferred in both directions and is connected to Google Play to spend on apps and games.
Once money is loaded into Google Wallet, it operates as a digital bank and processing transactions are free; when sending money over email directly from a credit/debit card though,“low fees” apply.
The feature was rolled out in the US in 2013 and delivery in the UK is clearly a push from Google to expand its European footprint. As Venturebeat mentions, Google Wallet itself is already in the UK, but only for paying for items on Google Play — peer-to-peer is a big step.
Once the search giant has enough registered users in the UK, VB continues, it will probably release its “tap to pay” app on mobile too — Google’s own contactless payment system. Naturally, it’s a big rival of Apple Pay, which we already know is also coming to the UK soon.
We’ll see which takes off.
Here’s Google’s full video explainer: