Google’s wallet-free payment service is coming to Israel — eventually
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Google’s wallet-free payment service is coming to Israel — eventually

Company officials said to be in talks with regulators, banks to bring online and phone-based payments to Israel, starting at the end of 2019

In this May 28, 2015, file photo, a Google employee gives a demonstration of Android Pay on a phone at Google I/O 2015 in San Francisco (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)
In this May 28, 2015, file photo, a Google employee gives a demonstration of Android Pay on a phone at Google I/O 2015 in San Francisco (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)

Google Pay, the search and advertising giant’s phone-based and online payment system, is coming to Israel.

Company officials have held a series of meetings with Israeli regulators, banks, credit card companies and financial tech firms, business journal The Marker reported Monday.

The system allows users to give Google their credit card information, then shop at online sites and participating real-world stores using their Google accounts, without having to hand each retailer their credit card information. It is billed by Google as a means of payment that can streamline purchases, allowing payment at stores through touching an NFC-enabled (allowing electronic devices to communicate) Android phone to a reader at the checkout, sparing shoppers the need to reach for their wallets.

Neither the customer nor the retailer pay a fee for the service, but as with most of Google’s free services, it stores the purchase information and uses it to help deliver more relevant online ads to the customer.

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

Google has been launching the service, first announced in 2015, in a growing number of countries. It began in the US and UK, then launched in Japan in 2016, Russia, Canada and Brazil in 2017, then Germany, India and France in 2018, among many other countries.

The Israel launch is expected toward the end of 2019, according to the report.

Major retailers and banks have increasingly turned to online and digital payment systems in recent years that are seen as more convenient and secure than standard credit cards and cash. But getting Israeli stores to switch to digital payment methods will require convincing them to install NFC card readers at checkout counters, among other technologies.

Illustrative image of online shopping. (Poike, via iStock by Getty Images)

Israel is often billed as the “startup nation,” but it remains a relatively small retail market with heavily regulated financial institutions. Israeli banks have only begun significant moves toward online banking and digital payment systems in recent years.

According to The Marker, Israelis will at first be limited to using Google Pay only in online shopping, which makes up a growing portion of the Israeli consumer market. Purchases using phones at brick-and-mortar stores will come later. It may take some time before the technology is ubiquitous in Israeli shops.

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