Google Pay Expands QR Payment Offerings to Local Indian Merchants Following Successful Trial Period

Google said Thursday it plans to roll out the SoundPod, its portable speaker designed to instantly validate and announce successful payments, to small merchants across India over the coming months. The Google Pay expansion in India, where the company is among the mobile payment market leaders, comes even as the firm winds down some of its payments apps in the U.S. The sound-box was invented to serve small Indian merchants unable to afford regular point-of-sale devices but accepting of UPI payments. The company said merchants who use SoundPod to process 400 payments in a month will get $1.5 in cashback. Reliance, India’s largest firm by market cap, also began testing a similar device at its campus last year, TechCrunch earlier reported.

Google announced on Thursday its plans to launch the SoundPod, a portable speaker designed for quick and secure payment validations, to small merchants all over India in the coming months. This expansion of Google Pay in India, where the company leads the mobile payment market, coincides with the winding down of some of its payment apps in the United States.

The company’s Vice President of Products for Google Pay, Ambarish Kenghe, wrote in a blog post that during the limited trial of SoundPod last year, merchants found it to be very helpful in reducing checkout time, resulting in positive feedback.

The mini jukeboxes, affectionately referred to as “sound-boxes” in India, have gained widespread adoption in the country, providing merchants with a sense of relief upon receiving payments and allowing them to dispute any fraudulent claims.

Currently, financial services firm Paytm dominates the sound-box market, with PhonePe also expanding its device. It is estimated that more than 20 million merchants in India utilize these boxes, which cost around $18-$20 to make. (Coincidentally, Paytm is currently struggling to survive amidst regulatory crackdown.)

The sound-box was created to serve the needs of small Indian merchants who could not afford traditional point-of-sale devices but were able to accept UPI payments. UPI, a payment network established by a group of retail banks in India, has now become the most popular method of transaction for Indians. Last year, it surpassed the combined usage of Visa, Mastercard, and Amex, prompting payment giants to look for ways to take advantage of its reach.

Over time, the sound box has evolved into a profitable subscription model, with various players charging merchants for their subscription services. According to an industry insider, the real appeal of the sound box goes beyond its auditory alerts – it offers valuable insights into merchant behavior, making it easier to offer loans based on this data.

Google Pay is offering the SoundPod at a minimal cost – a one-time fee of $18 for one year, or a one-time fee of $6 and six cents per day for 25 days in a month. The company also announced that merchants who use SoundPod to process 400 payments in a month will receive $1.5 in cashback.

“Being a part of India’s digital payment revolution is a source of great pride for us, as it provides valuable lessons on how digital transformation occurs in tech-forward societies. We are deeply committed to this journey for the long term,” stated Google’s Kenghe.

India’s largest company by market capitalization, Reliance, has also been testing a similar device at its headquarters since last year, as previously reported by TechCrunch. The company confirmed the device’s existence during an earnings call and stated its plans to launch it in the market soon.

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Max Chen

Max Chen is an AI expert and journalist with a focus on the ethical and societal implications of emerging technologies. He has a background in computer science and is known for his clear and concise writing on complex technical topics. He has also written extensively on the potential risks and benefits of AI, and is a frequent speaker on the subject at industry conferences and events.

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