On Monday, 18 September, Google, Alphabet Inc’s subsidiary, will make an entry into India’s fast growing and super competitive digital payment ecosystem, with a solution of its own. Google is launching a payment product which is likely called Google ‘Tez’ (which means fast in Hindi). Tez is largely fashioned on the company’s global product—Android Pay (earlier called Google Wallet).

How hot is India’s payment space? This hot: Google, tick. WhatsApp, tick. Truecaller, tick. Myriad wallet companies, tick. Flipkart, tick. Of course, banks, a whole lot of them, tick.

Google, according to sources, is expected to partner “several large private banks in India”. This, after it sought a special permission from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to partner with multiple banks, to enable its services through India’s digital payments network, the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI). It even entered into discussions with public sector banks. Google will use the real-time inter-bank payments system Unified Payments Interface (UPI), developed by the NPCI (read our related stories on UPI and NPCI). The latter all but confirmed Tez, with a senior official stating that “it had an Indian name”, and that it was to be launched “very soon”.

An application with the Controller General of Patents, Designs, and Trade Marks, a department of India’s commerce and industry ministry, says that Google Inc filed a wordmark for ‘Tez’ on 27 June 2017.

Screenshots of Google Inc's trademark filing for 'Tez'

Besides its own UPI-based service, Google is expected to integrate third-party payment wallets such as Paytm* and MobiKwik among others on its platform. “Think of it as layers. The first one will be its own service: a wallet on the front-end, and UPI integration as a payment instrument. The second layer will be to simplify checkout through saved payment options—credit cards and wallets,” says a person aware of Google’s payment plans in India. He requested not to be named because he is not authorized to speak with the media.

Like Android Pay, Google’s Tez is expected to offer its users “an all-in-one, ubiquitous experience.” In other words, it will be platform agnostic. “It will be available both on the desktop, as a Chrome widget, and will be rolled out as an app on Google’s very own Play Store,” he adds. The UPI-based service will be integrated into other applications, including e-commerce, mobility, over-the-top apps, and Google’s own suite of apps—Play Music/Movies (for subscriptions) and Play Store (for paid downloads).

In India, Google’s entry into payments is a significant development. As things stand today, the country has not seen a single player, who can dominate all aspects of the payments ecosystem. There’s Paytm*, with 100 million wallet users, in the digital wallets space. Flipkart-owned PhonePe is now the largest UPI app.


Venkat Ananth

Venkat is currently in his tenth year in journalism. Prior to The Ken, he was Deputy Content Editor at Mint as part of the newspaper’s digital team. He also wrote in-depth features on the business of sport for the newspaper. His earlier assignments include Yahoo! (as a columnist) and the Hindustan Times, where he began his career. Born in Mumbai, Venkat holds a Bachelor of Mass Media (Journalism) degree from SIES College of Arts, Science and Commerce, Mumbai and a Master of Arts degree in International Studies from Goldsmiths, University of London. He currently resides in New Delhi, where he moved nearly five years ago.

View Full Profile

Available exclusively to subscribers of The Ken India

This story is a part of The Ken India edition. Subscribe. Questions?


Annual Subscription

12-month access to 200+ stories, archive of 800+ stories from our India edition. Plus our premium newsletters, Beyond The First Order and The Nutgraf worth Rs. 99/month or $2/month each for free.

Rs. 2,750


Single Story

Instant access to this story for a year along with comment privileges.

Rs. 500


Annual Subscription

12-month access to 150+ stories from Southeast Asia.

$ 120


Single Story

Instant access to this story for a year along with comment privileges.

$ 20



What is The Ken?

The Ken is a subscription-only business journalism website and app that provides coverage across two editions - India and Southeast Asia.

What kind of stories do you write?

We publish sharp, original and reported stories on technology, business and healthcare. Our stories are forward-looking, analytical and directional — supported by data, visualisations and infographics.

We use language and narrative that is accessible to even lay readers. And we optimise for quality over quantity, every single time.

What do I get if I subscribe?

For subscribers of the India edition, we publish a new story every weekday, a premium daily newsletter, Beyond The First Order and a weekly newsletter - The Nutgraf.

For subscribers of the Southeast Asia edition, we publish a new story three days a week and a weekly newsletter, Strait Up.

The annual subscription will get you complete, exclusive access to our archive of previously published stories for your edition, along with access to our subscriber-only mobile apps, our premium comment sections, our newsletter archives and several other gifts and benefits.

Do I need to pay separately for your premium newsletters?

Nope. Paid, premium subscribers of The Ken get our newsletters delivered for free.

Does a subscription to the India edition grant me access to Southeast Asia stories? Or vice-versa?

Afraid not. Each edition is separate with its own subscription plan. The India edition publishes stories focused on India. The Southeast Asia edition is focused on Southeast Asia. We may occasionally cross-publish stories from one edition to the other.

Do you offer an all-access joint subscription for both editions?

Not yet. If you’d like to access both editions, you’ll have to purchase two subscriptions separately - one for India and the other for Southeast Asia.

Do you offer any discounts?

No. We have a zero discounts policy.

Is there a free trial I can opt for?

We don’t offer any trials, but you can sign up for a free account which will give you access to the weekly free story, our archive of free stories and summaries of the paid stories. You can stay on the free account as long as you’d like.

Do you offer refunds?

We allow you to sample our journalism for free before signing up, and after you do, we stand by its quality. But we do not offer refunds.

I am facing some trouble purchasing a subscription. What can I do?

Please write to us at support@the-ken.com detailing the error or queries.