Meet Tez: Google wades into India’s mobile payments market

18 Sep 2017

View of Mumbai, India’s largest city. Image: saiko3p/Shutterstock

The launch of Tez could benefit more than 300m smartphone users in India.

Tez’ means fast in Hindi, and it’s the hope of Google to make mobile payments quick and simple for users in a country that is fond of old-fashioned cash transactions.

The app launched today (18 September) for download on Apple and Android devices, and is compatible with the Unified Payments Interface (UPI). The UPI makes financial transactions and money transfers between banks much easier, and is backed by the Indian government.

Indian government pushing fintech options

Bloomberg reported that high-value bank notes were banned in the country last November, with the Indian government since boosting fintech payment options with a range of incentives and initiatives to encourage citizens to consider digital payment methods.

Tez will act as a mobile wallet by linking your phone with your bank accounts in order to deduct payments from the accounts, as opposed to any money being stored in the app itself.

In a blogpost published today, Google explained how Tez would compete with much-loved physical cash in the Indian marketplace. Using a feature called Cash Mode, it can let the user pay others without exchanging sensitive personal information.

“Bring two phones near each other, hit pay or request, enter your UPI PIN and the payment goes instantly from one bank account to another. Cash Mode is built using our proprietary AQR [Audio QR] technology, which is similar to QR codes but more convenient and more secure. And, unlike NFC, it works on almost any smartphone in India, whether Android or iOS.”

Ease of use

It works in a similar way to a chat app, using your phone’s contact list so there’s no need to add people as beneficiaries or remember cumbersome account numbers. The transaction histories are also stored like a conversation you would see on a messaging platform.

Tez Shield is the app’s security arm, which works 24/7 and uses multiple signals to help detect spam and fraud, prevent hacking, and verify and protect the identity of every user. Security options are varied, including passcodes, fingerprints or a Google PIN code.

Broad support for Tez

While there are several mobile payments ventures in India – some of which are from the banks themselves – Tez works with all 55 banks on UPI, making it a lot more convenient across the board in what is becoming a fiercely competitive market.

Tez also has multilingual support, including English, Hindi, Bengali, Gujarati, Kannada, Marathi, Tamil and Telugu, with more to come.

Ellen Tannam was a journalist with Silicon Republic, covering all manner of business and tech subjects