Remittances is a massive global opportunity: Every year, some $700 billion in funds flows across national borders as migrant workers ship funds earned working abroad back to friends and family waiting at home. And that figure is notably growing. Take, for example, the rapidly growing U.S. India corridor, which reportedly grew from $11.7 billion in 2017 to $12.7 billion in 2018 to over $15 billion in 2019, as roughly 80 percent of the 2.4 million Indians living in the U.S. sent remittance payments back to India.
As of today, those payments may get a bit easier for U.S. Google Pay users looking to send remittance funds back to the Indian subcontinent. Google — in partnership with Wise and Western Union – has announced that it will now be possible to make peer-to-peer (P2P) payments to users in India and Singapore from within the Google Pay app.
The goal, as Google’s Director of Product Management Josh Woodward told PYMNTS in a conversation shortly before the news went live, is to offer consumers a seamless international P2P experience in-app that leverages the Western Union and Wise cross-border payment rails.
“[This announcement] takes many of our Google Pay ecosystem’s first principles to create an easier way for people to send money from Google Pay in the U.S. to a user in India or Singapore,” said Woodward.
As he noted, it’s a first step to making it easy for a Google Pay user to send P2P funds, anywhere and to anyone.
Tapping The Power Of The Platform
Woodward said it was Google Pay users who prompted the step to take P2P global. Feedback came from app users in India and the U.S. about the simplicity of the Google Pay experience — and they wanted a way to make it work internationally.
‘“What seemed like a very straightforward user request is actually incredibly complicated to pull off. But as we kept seeing these requests, we started thinking that it could be an interesting way to extend our peer-to-peer functionality.”
That feedback turned into exploratory conversations with Western Union and Wise, as both were thinking about new ways to leverage their own platforms to reach more people and deliver on their vision and their mission.
The Ever-Expanding Call For Innovation
The entrance into the world of global P2P starts today with three countries, driven mostly by industry reports and data that indicates where the money is currently flowing. But, as Woodward noted, the vision and the ambition for the project is larger than that starting point.
“This is really just the first step — over the course of the year, we’ll be adding more countries,” Woodward said, noting that Western Union and Wise represent literally hundreds of other cross-border remittance opportunities. The bigger vision is to enable Google Pay to send money to “a lot more of the world.”
Google’s cross-border P2P plans, Woodward noted, do not include becoming a “remittance player, issuer, bank or anything else” — and it is quite happy to leverage Wise’s and Western Union’s rails, fraud checks and regulatory and compliance expertise in the cross-border payments process. Google, via Google Pay, is a new digital front door for its customers, expanding its current services to include global P2P.
What Google and Google Pay will learn from the newly announced expansion will serve as the foundation for how their wider cross-border efforts should function in the future. It’s an interactive process that starts today, and is likely to end … well, never, Woodward said.
More likely than not, the work on Google Pay will never be complete, he predicted, because consumer behavior is likely to keep changing and evolving. User behaviors are changing worldwide faster than ever — meaning that inventing solutions isn’t about solving today’s problems but trying to anticipate tomorrow’s needs.
Woodward said the goal of the team is to “keep a steady drumbeat of features and app updates” every two weeks. Sometimes, that will mean nothing more than bug fixes, but other times it will be new products, like the global P2P innovations released today.
“We’re constantly trying to cue up things that will really help solve the needs that Google Pay users have now — as well as the needs they don’t yet know they have, but will need to solve before you know it.”