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article imageGoogle's new 'Tez' payments app uses ultrasound to send money

By James Walker     Sep 18, 2017 in Technology
As previously rumoured, Google has announced a new mobile payments service aimed specifically at Indian consumers. The app is designed to replace cash and includes support for instantaneous transactions. They can be sent using ultrasound signals.
Tez is Google's latest attempt to improve connectivity and progress the digital economy in India. In its blog post, it expressed dissatisfaction with how "Indians love cash." Tez is meant to offer the 300 million smartphone users in India a better alternative.
The app is built on top of India's Unified Payments Interface (UPI). This interface connects banks to businesses and online payment providers. Tez sends transactions over UPI, giving it access to the complete payments framework. This allows the app to make "instant" payments between bank accounts.
Tez also comes with a "cash mode." This is designed to replace cash when you're sending payments locally. Instead of presenting a wad of notes, Google wants Indian shoppers to send payments to stores, traders and friends using Tez. The transaction is made using NFC or AudioQR, an ultrasound-based technology that's not frequently used.
AudioQR works by allowing phones to communicate with each other using their mics and speakers. The audio exchanges take place above the range of human hearing, so you don't hear any audible sounds during the exchange.
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This technology is thought to be included in Tez because few Indian smartphone owners have a high-end device. NFC is likely to be absent but a mic and speaker will be available on any handset.
Google wants to push Tez as a way to help India achieve its cashless ambitions. The company recognised that digital payments won't succeed unless they can replicate the ease of use, flexibility and speed of cash exchanges. Tez is designed around these fundamental challenges and is supposed to offer immediate transfers in any scenario.
"To make digital payments truly work for India, we wanted to build a product that can compete with cash," said Google. "It needs to be simple, affordable and work everywhere and for everyone. So today in India we're introducing a new mobile app from Google, Tez – a simple and secure way to pay for things, big and small, online and offline."
Tez faces competition from several existing services though. Many of the 300 million smartphone users Google is targeting already use a digital payments provider. Indian firms including Flipkart and Hike offer their own UPI-based apps. Caller ID provider Truecaller has launched its own transactions platform and Facebook-owned WhatsApp is believed to be working on an entry.
Google will try to convince users to give Tez a try by pitching it as "made for India" and removing transaction fees. The app will be completely free to use, including for businesses and merchants. Google's more interested in building a long-term following in India than achieving immediate monetisation. The revenue will come further down the line, when India's smartphone users are all exchanging digital cash on Tez.
More about Google, google tez, mobile payments, digital payments, connectivity
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