In a very quiet announcement today, Google revealed a new service that combines the features of Gmail and Google Wallet into one. In the next few weeks, a dollar sign will begin appearing in the attachments area for people who use Gmail and Google Wallet, which will allow users to send money easily as an email attachment.
This is at least a little bit easier than using PayPal, because it is integrated with the email service that most people already use. In addition, there is no fee for any transfers directly from a connected bank account, although credit and debit cards will be subject to an additional 2.9% fee. Any users will have to be over 18, but other than that recipients need not have even a Gmail address. There’s not much more to the new service, as it is truly quite simple. As long as you have a Google Wallet account and are over 18, you can attach money to an email. The recipient will have to set up Google Wallet if they don’t already have an account, but other than that the transfer is quite easy.
Other companies have toyed with transferring money via cell phone numbers and email addresses, but so far none of the services have caught on. Google has the advantage of already having hundreds of millions of Gmail users, and quite a few Wallet users as well. I don’t doubt that this new service, if it truly works as well and as simply as Google says it will, could become quite useful for payments between friends and family, or in other casual situations. The service clearly isn’t aimed at business, but could potentially be useful to some small businesses in certain situations.
Google Wallet so far hasn’t been extremely successful, but this new integration should help to make the service a little more prominent. Although there may not be too many reasons that you would have to share money through email, Google’s new money attachment option certainly looks convenient for certain situations, and perhaps could even save small, casual transactions from the fees and hassle of Paypal.[Google]