Let me Google the future of payments for you

The first time Pali Bhat was introduced to frictionless commerce was as a child growing up in India. He’d run to the corner store to buy some things for his parents. Google’s head of payments would choose what he wanted and just leave the store. The shop owner, who knew Pali’s family, would settle up the bill at the end of the month.

“Payments were truly invisible,” Bhat told a large crowd at the Money 20/20 conference.

Creating more of these frictionless experiences are part and parcel of Bhat’s role at the technology giant. His product strategy includes making Google payment technology ubiquitous, frictionless, and delightful. Android’s NFC tap and pay functionality, which doesn’t require opening an app, goes a long way towards removing the friction in a payment experience and Bhat revealed that the firm is taking that approach even further. Called Handsfree, Google has been running a pilot in Silicon Valley with McDonalds and Chick-fil-A where Android users don’t even need to take their phones out of their pockets to pay.

Bhat’s group runs the payments systems behind all Google products, like AdWords and YouTube, which both accept and disburse billions of dollars of payments to partners. With Android Pay and Google Wallet, he is also entrusted with mobile consumer payment solutions in store, in apps, on the web and P2P.

Google’s trying to remove friction around all types of payments, including in-app. That means making it easier for users of the apps to pay but also making it a lot easier for app developers to integrate Android Pay. Many top apps, like Instacart and Uber, have already done that and others are as well through integrations into Stripe and Braintree.

“Developers are seeing dramatic conversions when they integrate Android Pay — they just need 10 lines of code,” he said.

Google’s also taking aim at online forms to speed up online payments. Using the firm’s Payments Autofill in Chrome, users who have made purchases via Google can store their billing information in Chrome. This information can be used at a future purchase to automatically fill out a checkout form.

“Merchants don’t need to do anything. It’s so easy for users that merchants are seeing a 25 percent higher conversion for people who use,” Bhat admitted.

Tackling forms is just the beginning for Google. The firm has its eyes on an even bigger prize — eliminating forms as a major speed bump in payments. Google is collaborating with standards board W3C to enable users to completely bypass forms on their way to completing a transaction.

What’s new is old. If it’s successful in getting more users to take up Google payment products, the firm’s focus on frictionless commerce may bring payments back to Bhat’s corner store experience in India.