Google builds mobile payments app Tez with Audio QR tech

Google has launched the Tez app in India with Audio QR technology to enable nearly payments without the need for NFC.


Google has expanded its footprint in the world of mobile payments by launching Tez. The new app, focused initially on India, is designed to advance mobile transactions using an all-new technology called Audio QR.

To bypass the need for NFC (near-field communication), which is necessary for making payments through services such as Android Pay, Apple Pay and Samsung Pay, Google's Audio QR technology uses ultrasonic sounds to help users exchange money with their neighbouring contacts. This makes the Tez app capable of making payments -- irrespective of compatibility with any particular models. "Audio QR works on almost every smartphone. All you need is a smartphone with a speaker and a microphone," Google writes on a support page, defining the development.

The Tez app includes a Cash mode that enables Audio QR to fulfill transactions with the nearby device.

This is not the first time when Google has deployed ultrasonic sound detection to enable faster wireless connectivity. The search giant showcased a similar development on its Chromecast back in 2014. However, the latest move is the first move to primarily ease payments.

Catering space beyond nearby devices

In addition to the technology detecting ultrasonic sounds, Google has partnered with banking institutions in India to enable remote payments. The list of partners includes HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank and State Bank of India. The company is also set to enable domestic businesses to support payments under Tez for Business programme. Business merchants will be able to have their native channel on the app to engage with customers and share offers, send payment reminders and even add a link to their mobile website or customer support.

Additionally, Google has built Tez on the UPI infrastructure that NPCI (National Payments Corporation of India) has designed for unified digital payments in the country. This makes the app capable of working with over 50 UPI-enabled banks.

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"With Tez, we are not just building an app but working towards a digital ecosystem that brings together millions of smartphone users, small merchants, large businesses and financial institutions," said Diana Layfield, vice president and head of finance and commerce products, Google.

Google's Tez is available for download on Android and iOS and comes with multilingual support, including English and Hindi for iPhone users. Furthermore, the app is touted to have multi-layer security along with a machine learning-based fraud detection engine and device-level protection.

Analysts believe that Google would utilise its existing user data stack to even provide interest-based options. "Google's information about an individual's preferences can play a good role in enabling businesses to know their preferences and provide offers with interesting options," said DD Mishra, research director, Gartner.

Tez isn't a mobile wallet or a successor to Google Wallet. Instead, the app gives mobile users an alternative to services such as internet banking and m-commerce. It is likely to reach other Asian markets, including Indonesia and Philippines, following the pilot in India.