Google Pay has launched a new version of its Android app, ahead of the launch of its ‘Plex’ banking service in 2021. The replacement app, which is now live in the Google Play Store, has been completely rewritten in Flutter, Google’s DART-based development kit. We got our first look at the new design when India replaced the Google Tez app with a retooled Google Pay. It was announced today after a series of teasers on Twitter, with a live stream.
We’ll start with the bad news because there’s not much of it. The new version of Google Pay can only be used on one device at a time. If you attempt to log in on a second device, you’ll get a warning telling you that the account is in use on another device. This is not necessarily a bad thing because the increased scope of the app warrants extra security. The second niggling change is that changing your NFC payment source has been put behind a button in the top right of the screen, so it’s not as fluid as it was before.
The good news is that the changes are the result of a massive upscaling of Google Pay and its capabilities. The new version goes way beyond contactless payments. There’s now an option to pay friends and family members, based on your contact list, search for local retailers who accept Google Pay, and in some cases, order a meal directly from the app. You can view all your receipts and orders, with the app now integrated with Google Photos, allowing it to pull in any paper receipts you’ve photographed. This is on top of the existing order-pull-through from Gmail.
Google Pay will also be able to store discount codes and automatically apply them. Target, Burger King, and Etsy are amongst the first to join the scheme. Some car parks will let you park and pay from the app, whilst participating gas stations will let you pay for your fuel without visiting the cashier. It looks like this function also ties into Google Assistant, based on an APK teardown we analyzed earlier in the year. Meanwhile, if you’re at a restaurant, you can create a group, split a bill or keep track of who owes for their share. The group feature is also ideal for roommates to keep their financial affairs in one place.
Another integration is with Plaid, a fintech service that acts as a middle-man, allowing you to interact with your bank accounts, view balances, make payments, and so on, directly from within Google Pay. When international rollout begins, functionality will vary from country to country, such as in the UK where the Open Banking Standard means that a partner app won’t be necessary.
All these new functions are a mere curtain-raiser to the star attraction, the company’s Plex bank account service, launching in 2021. At launch, Plex accounts (as in Googolplex -ho ho) will be offered by 9 partner banks. Rather than banking with Google, which, as you may have noticed, isn’t a bank, you’ll have an account with the partner bank, offering deep integration with Google Pay. The debit card will say Google, of course, and Google Pay will become your banking app, putting it in direct competition with other digital-first banks such as Revolut, Curve, and N26.
Google Plex accounts will be free to open, without monthly fees, offer fee-free overdrafts, and free ATM withdrawals in-network. Two partner banks — Citi and Stanford Credit Union — have opened their waitlist for the service. Sign up today and you’ll be sent a debit card when the service goes live. The app experience includes regular spending reports, the ability to categorize spending types, and search by retailer, category, or date.
Any one of these features would have been a significant update for Google Pay. As it is, this is a complete reinvention of the service and a huge leap forward for digital banking. To celebrate, the new app has a new logo, in keeping with Google’s recent form of four-color monstrosities. This one looks like chamois leather, though apparently, it’s a wallet.
The new Google Pay app is now available in the Play Store for U.S. users only (link below). International rollout will come later. In the meantime, the version of Google Pay in your app store is the right one for you. In the US, the old version is still available as Google Pay (old) but will nag you to switch to the new one. Alternatively, download the new app from APK Mirror. (Oh, and in case you were wondering, it’s also available on iOS).