Checkout ‘Failure’ Can Help Google in PayPal Battle


Google’s decision to shut down its web-based payments system, Google Checkout, is being seen as a “clever” if inevitable move by ecommerce experts, with the search giant’s Google Wallet service ultimately offering a chance to dominate the more “fertile” ground of mobile payments.

After seven years of trying to compete with Amazon, PayPal and other web-based payment systems, NUI Galway ecommerce lecture, Tom Acton says Google “failed to do something very simple – ensuring that consumers and sellers really knew what it was for”.

According to Acton: “Both Amazon and eBay [PayPal’s owner] are places where people go to buy and sell physical goods, as well as digital. But Checkout never really convinced buyers or sellers it was for anything other than digital product.”

Samee Zafar, director of the London offices for global financial services and payments consultancy, Edgar Dunn & Company says: “ It [Checkout] was a failure but that doesn’t mean that another payment product coming out from Google will be a failure as well; in fact Google Wallet is a very interesting proposition.”

The statement of Checkout’s demise (with the service finishing on November 20th) came after the announcement of major updates to Google Wallet.

These include storing payment credentials securely in the Chrome browser to cut down the steps associated with online payments, the Google Wallet Instant Buy Android API which simplifies buying products within native Android apps, as well as the ability to “attach” money to an email using your Wallet account.

A Google blog post on Checkout’s “retirement” said it was a result of a gradual “transition to Google Wallet – a platform that enables merchants to meet the demands of a multiscreen world where consumers shop in-stores, at their desks and on their mobile devices”.

While PayPal told The Irish Times it would not comment on Checkout’s cessation of services, Zafar says the fact that Google “has moved its best people into mobile” augurs well for creating “a whole new product” to rival other payment systems.

“Online means mobile as well, and I think Google Wallet can make a dent in that world,” he adds.

NUIG’s Acton says the future of ecommerce payment is mobile. “If Google can become a main player in mcommerce payment handling, where consumers consume and sellers sell via smartphones and tablets, then Google is moulding the future rather than trailing the pack.

“Ecommerce at the desktop is now only part of the game, mobile devices are the blank canvas.”