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Pony Express: On the Right Track

A new trend is emerging for a while now. Big businesses are trying to gain more and more control over their user transactions by offering additional services from their own platform. From Apple Pay to Samsung Pay and from Google Wallet to Facebook Payments, all the biggies of the tech universe are making a run for it.

Basically, these behemoths realize that they can benefit further by having complete control over the user transactions and eliminate the third-party service provider in between. This makes it convenient for the user and adds to the bottom-line of the companies.

The news is that Google is going a step further with something called Pony Express, a system that will allow you to pay your bills through your Gmail ID, from your mailbox itself rather than visiting different sites including a third-party payment service and of course that of your bank for the transaction.

Why Pony Express?

The advent of online payment eased our lives and energized e-commerce in the last decade or so. Initially, it used to be the privileged credit card holders who had it easy. Advancements in internet banking made it accessible to everyone. So, the effort is to make it as easy as possible for the user.

Generally people have to remember a lot of IDs and passwords to use internet banking and credit cards. Various new apps and services make it easier by remembering these details in trusted devices. Pony Express is another effort in this domain.

Google Wallet, the technology giant’s earlier attempt to get into Mobile commerce did not exactly take off and was overshadowed by better options from its rivals. So, this time they are moving cautiously. To start with, they have come up with a catchy brand name.

Pony Express is nostalgic and evocative. It refers to the 19th century mail delivery systems where the mailman rode the ponies and visited town to town.  Although it is more likely to be a code name for the project that will eventually be replaced with something direct and the Google brand name in it.

How Does Pony Express Work?

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Complete details are still awaited, but from what we can understand, the user interface will be a simple, no-frills one.  If you use Gmail as your primary email address, chances are you already receive bill notifications in your mail. It will group all your bills together in the mailbox and show you who to pay, how much to pay and also the last date for payments.

There will be added options that you can set.

For example, you can share your internet charges with your roommates. Once you dictate Pony Express about the same, it will keep dividing the bill month after month. The final payment will also be done in the mail itself, without you ever having to leave your mailbox and visiting any other website. In short, Google intends to eliminate all other payment gateways and make everything manageable as well as payable through the inbox itself.

What Will it Require?

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Pony Express will let you pay your bills without ever leaving your inbox.

Well, the catch here is that in order to have such convenience you will have to allow Google access some of your personal details including name address as well as social security number. So, Google will know everything about you including your complete personal details.

It is not clear how Google intends to monetize this system though. It may just start like a complementary service like its earlier products but surely in due course of time Google will find a way to monetize the same.

What’s in it for Google?

It is obvious that the most attractive part for Google here is the personal data of the users. So far its entire business model has been based on that. It has used personal search histories and online activities to fine-tune its own search engine and develop it to become the behemoth it is today.

Now, this payment system promises even richer dividends as they can have access to much more detailed financial and personal data of the users. They will get your social security numbers to go with your mail IDs and phone numbers and they will know how much you are spending every month on various bills.

Such information will not only enable Google into fine-tuning its services and offerings but will also allow it to come up with more diverse products. In fact with access to such information, Google can enter the full-fledged financial services domain offering you loans, insurance and investment options. If it succeeds, they will be well on course for teaming up with some financial giant and offer myriad of personal financing services to its users.

Acceptability Factor

Well, it is a matter of personal preferences. Many people, especially the younger ones are already using various services of this kind from different service providers. It does not matter to them really if Google knows their social security. But commercial transactions will probably be difficult to win over like this. Emphasis on security will be higher in such cases with higher volumes.

Also, we see a lot of people still using checks and visiting banks personally because they have never been able to trust the fancy new services with their sensitive information. But it is actually a matter of branding. One tends to trust a reputed bank more with their money.

Final Thoughts

So, Pony Express seems to be an interesting prospect by Google. Complete details are yet to emerge but we can be sure that more and more technology players will try to grab a slice of this pie in the near future because it gives them the power of accessing personal financial data of the consumers which they can use for market research and marketing afterwards.

Stay tuned for more exciting and innovative ideas on this front. You may have to live with the idea that your personal data is being accessed. But you can be sure about one thing, the transactions will make your life easy.