Google announced at I/O 2019 that it will soon let users buy items on its Play Store using cash, NDTV reported. Cash payments on the Play Store are already live in Japan and Mexico, and will be rolled out in other countries soon. Google also said that users in India will soon be able to make Play Store purchases through the Unified Payments Interface (UPI), an instant payment system developed by the National Payments Corporation of India. In India, the Play Store currently accepts credit and debit cards, netbanking, carrier billing, Google Play balance and gift cards, including offline vouchers, as payment methods.
How Play Store will handle cash payments
Google said it will enable cash transactions on the Play Store through a new payment method called ‘pending transactions’. Instead of a ‘Pay Now’ button, it will present a code which the user can take to the nearest Google-authorised store and pay using cash – or any payment method of their choice. Google said the user should have access to the new purchase within 10 minutes, though in some cases it could take up to 48 hours, and refunds will be in the form of Google Play credit, per Droid Life. The feature will cater to users who don’t have access to other forms of payments – such as credit or a debit card – or even a bank account, and to those who are hesitant to give their banking details online.
UPI option ‘coming soon’
Google didn’t specify when it would add support for UPI payments in Google Play but this shouldn’t take long as the company already supports UPI transactions through its payments app, Google Pay. The introduction of UPI will mark the biggest expansion of the Play Store’s monetisable user base in India since it introduced carrier billing as a payment option for Airtel and Vodafone customers in 2017. Carrier billing allows users to pay for purchases with their mobile balance (prepaid customers or bill (postpaid customers). The Play Store, however, only allows postpaid customers to use the feature. In September 2015, the company had introduced physical Google Play Gift Cards in retail outlets across India. It marked the first time that users who didn’t have a credit or debit card, or access to digital payments, could buy items on the Play Store.
Allowing users to pay with cash and via UPI is a major push by Google to increase Play Store revenues. While the Play Store sees more downloads than Apple’s App Store it earns far less money. According to a Sensor Tower report, the Play Store generated $25 billion in revenues in 2018, while the App Store raked in $47 billion. Allowing users to pay in cash or through UPI could help bridge that gap as Android is hugely popular in developing countries, where cash still rules and access to digital payments is limited.