Google reportedly speeding up digital wallet launch in Israel

Hebrew media says US tech giant is seeking to penetrate Israeli market with Google Pay app by 3Q this year vs original end of year plan; Apple Pay launched locally two weeks ago

Shoshanna Solomon was The Times of Israel's Startups and Business reporter

Illustrative: Google Pay screens on an Android phone. (Google website)
Illustrative: Google Pay screens on an Android phone. (Google website)

US tech giant Google is speeding up its plans to introduce its digital wallet for payments in the Israeli market, Hebrew media reported on Wednesday.

The company is planning to launch its Google Pay app, a digital payments app for Android smartphones, during the third quarter of the year, Calcalist financial website reported, instead of toward the end of the year as previously planned.

The move follows the launch of the rival Apple Pay digital wallet two weeks ago in Israel. An estimated 200,000 local users signed up, making it the largest digital wallet in Israel, Calcalist said.

Some 62% of businesses in Israel have deployed the EMV infrastructure, which allows for cashless payments via digital wallets or smart credit cards, and that is also speeding up Google’s plans.

The entry of the foreign digital wallets to Israel is likely to create competition for Israeli lenders that offer their customers their own digital wallets, like Bank Hapoalim’s Bit app, Israel Discount Bank’s PayBox app, and Bank Leumi Le-Israel’s app.

Google plans to offer not only its digital wallet to the Israeli public but also its Plex program, which enables Google Pay users to open a bank account through a partnership with 11 banks, Globes reported. The Plex accounts are said to have have no monthly fees, overdraft charges or minimum balances.

The tech giant recently launched a major redesign of its payments app, keeping its core features intact but adding help for users to manage their personal finances.

A spokeswoman for Google in Israel said there is no update regarding the launch date of the app locally at the moment.

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