Google is said to be working on a new project partially designed to combat Facebook’s recent addition of payments to its Messenger app. Codenamed “Pony Express,” the service will initially cater to monthly bill payments and be integrated into Gmail according to a document viewed by Re/code.
On the surface, Pony Express will let users pay bills within Gmail instead of having to navigate to a provider’s website. But as the publication notes, such a service could be just the tip of the iceberg in terms of Google’s overall financial strategy.
Access to a wealth of financial-related data could open the doors for the search giant to enter any number of other untapped markets. Credit and debit card bills and payment history, for example, may allow Google to offer personal finance products or even personal loans. What’s more, such data could be used for targeted ad purposes although both instances will likely raise all kinds of privacy concerns.
The lengthy document seen by the site outlines how the service would be set up, with users providing personal information including Social Security number and credit card numbers to a third-party company to verify identity. Google appears to be reaching out to third-party companies that handle print billing on the endeavor and perhaps even directly with service providers.
Once verified, a user can start receiving their bills through Gmail or Google’s latest app, Inbox. Online billing isn’t exactly a new concept but Google could advertise its ability to aggregate all of your bills in one convenient folder.
Being able to pay bills on the spot directly from an e-mail could afford a level of convenience that many would probably willingly accept. Additionally, a feature to split bills up among roommates and automate the process would no doubt lure in even more users.
The document claims Google is planning to launch the service in the fourth quarter.
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