Google has made paying a friend for lunch, or transferring rent to a housemate as simple as sending an email. Gmail users can transfer cash simply by ‘attaching’ the transaction to a standard email. The service launched in the US in 2013 and is now being rolled out to Google account holders in the UK. It uses Google Wallet – a free mobile payment and digital wallet that securely stores a user’s credit cards, debit cards, gift cards, loyalty cards and offers. Cards are linked to the digital wallet, and payments can be made for online purchases and in shops using the phone’s contactless NFC chip. The Google Wallet Balance is a prepaid balance in a Google Wallet account. When users are sent money with Google Wallet, the money is added to this balance. Money can also be sent to other people from Google Wallet, as well as back to the user’s bank account.
Google Wallet launched in 2011, and its pay by Gmail service was made available in the US in May 2013. It is protected by a fraud monitoring service, and the Google Wallet Fraud Protection Guarantee. People can also lock their Google Wallet using a PIN, in addition to a screen lock. Google said at the time of launch: ‘Google Wallet is now integrated with Gmail, so you can quickly and securely send money to friends and family directly within Gmail – even if they don’t have a Gmail address. ‘It’s free to send money if your bank account is linked to Google Wallet or using your Google Wallet balance, and low fees apply to send money using your linked credit or debit card.’ In a follow-up blog post, Google wrote: ‘We’re excited to make this feature available for Gmail users in the UK. ‘This means people in the UK will now be able to quickly and securely send money to friends and family in the UK directly within desktop Gmail.’ To send money in Gmail, hover over the attachment paperclip and click either the $ or the £ icon to attach the transaction to the message. Enter the amount and press send. Money can be sent to any email address of people aged 18 and over. However, to receive the money, people do need to install the Google Wallet app. And it is only available on desktop, but users can send money using the wallet on their phones or tablets. The feature is rolling out across the UK gradually ‘over the coming weeks.’