Google Assistant added a feature to let Google Pay users transfer cash to their contacts or request payments from them using voice commands, per a company blog post. The feature works on Android smartphones and tablets, and also on iPhones that have Google Assistant installed with the Google app. Google plans to add the feature to its line of Google Home smart speakers in the coming months.
Smartphone owners need to have a Google account that's set up with Google Pay to handle transactions, and have the Google app installed on a mobile device. To transfer money or request a payment, Google Assistant users can say commands into their phones like, "Hey, Google, send $300 to Mom" or "Hey Google, request $9.43 from John for gas money." Payments have to be authorized on a smartphone or other device with a fingerprint scan or password, and don't rely purely on a voice command.
Funds sent with Google Assistant can be received by any person in a Google user's contacts, even if the recipient doesn't have Google Pay, per the blog post. Google Assistant can guide people without Google Pay on how to set up an account. Google Assistant can send up to $9,999 in a single payment, as with Google Pay on Android phones, according to VentureBeat.
The addition of Google Pay to Google Assistant is another step in the search giant's effort to build a well-rounded digital voice assistant. The company this year rolled out Google Pay to combine services that were previously available separately as Android Pay and Google Wallet. The company also added peer-to-peer payments to Google's in-store payment app to give mobile users an additional choice aside from third-party apps like PayPal's Venmo or bank-supported Zelle.
Google likely added voice-enable payments to smartphones before Google Home devices running Google Assistant because of security reasons. Smartphones have the capability to verify a transaction with security measures like a fingerprint or password, while voiceprint identification for payments is an unproven technology.
The ease of paying with cash or debit and credit cards has hindered the growth of mobile payments in the U.S., but trends show that contactless transactions are steadily becoming more popular, especially among younger consumers who are more accustomed to using mobile devices like smartphones for personal computing. Adding voice commands to Google Pay is an extra convenience, but it remains to be seen whether the feature is a real game changer in smartphone transactions.