Google wants your smart speaker to pay your bills as well

Google has announced it will launch additional features for its smart speaker software soon, including the ability to pay back friends just by using your voice.

A few years back at a conference, one speaker commented that the banks shouldn’t be looking across the high street for competition, they should be looking at companies like Google and Amazon. With this latest update to the Google Assistant, it does appear this premonition is starting to come true.

In a couple of months’ time, users will be able to instruct their Google Home device to send money to contacts, who will then receive a notification that payment has been received. The assistant will also be able to give friends and family members prompts to pay you back as well. These functions are generally available for those who have the Google Pay application installed already, but this move takes the business closer to the smart home dream.

“You can easily send or request money from your contacts – for free – using the Assistant on Android and iOS phones in the US,” Sam Kansara, Product Manager for Google Pay. “In the coming months, you’ll be able to send money on voice-activated speakers like Google Home.”

The introduction of the Google smart speaker, which could be viewed as a bit of a loss leader, could be seen as a way for Google to get more entwined in your life. Right now most people have a Google email account or use the search engine as default, but what about the rest of the time. That is too much time not to be engaging with Google.

By introducing a quirky way to pay friends back, and removing the friction of logging into online banking, Google is normalising itself in the world of payments. It would not be surprising to see Google partnering with utilities companies before too long as a simpler way to pay your bills. With the payment reminder function being built into your psyche, you won’t even mind Google prompting you for permission to pay your water bill in the future either.

This is where the internet companies are very clever. The technology is probably already developed for Google to take control of your personal finances, but by drip-feeding features into your life the idea of Google taking control of your personal finances is not as intrusive.

The battle between Google and Amazon for control of the smart home is certainly an interesting one, but controlling the users wallet would give a huge advantage. Facilitating the relationship between the user and the commercial world could lead to all sorts of benefits, as well as trust of the user. If you trust your speaker to pay your friends back, you will probably trust it to order you a pizza. This is where the Google search advertising business model could start to make money in the living room.

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