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Google Wallet appears in India, with local integrations, but Pay remains

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Google Wallet appears in India, with local integrations, but Pay remains

Google Wallet will finally launch in India – almost two years after its relaunch as a digital wallet platform in the US – according to a preview of the app the company accidentally launched Posted on the Google Play Store in the country.

After JS spotted the listing for the app — which allows users to load loyalty cards and buy things, among other things — the company declined to confirm that it will be available to Android users anytime soon. But then it appears to be pulling out some details, such as high-profile launch partners that appear to be local to India. (The app now includes more generic US brands.)

Somewhat confusingly, Google confirmed to us that it will continue to use Google Pay as a standalone app in the country, at least for now. That’s a different strategy than almost every other market, where Google has merged Wallet and Pay experiences under one Wallet app.

“While we have nothing new to share at this time, we are always working to bring more convenience to people’s digital experiences in India. We continue to invest in the Google Pay app to give people easy and secure access to digital payments,” a Google spokesperson said in a statement to JS.

We understand that part of the reason seems to be that Google Pay is already huge in the country. It is well known that India is Google’s largest payments market globally and is the second largest payment app after PhonePe.

Not least because Google has confirmed its plans to continue offering Google Pay as a payment service in India, the Indian version of Google Wallet is expected to differ from that in the US. First, Google wants to offer local integrations to the Wallet app in the country, which is home to the largest Android user base.

The Google Wallet listing that JS discovered last week included screenshots of Indian airline Air India, state-owned bank State Bank of India and multiplex chain PVR Inox, suggesting that loyalty points can be collected and used through these brands. (Shortly after JS reached out to Google for comment, Google updated its list of US brands.)

Google Wallet briefly appeared on the Play Store in India

Image credits: Screenshots from Google Play Store

The existing The Google Wallet app is not yet available for download from the Play Store in India, but has been working for some Android users in the country for a while now, as reported from the Indian outlet Beebom. However, its functionality is limited: users can add credit and debit cards for contactless payments, but the app does not support Indian businesses and local loyalty programs.

These latest changes put an end to the many moves Google has made between different financial services and cross-branded apps. Google Wallet was launched back in 2011 as the company’s payment solution. Then Google launched Android Pay. It then tried to replace the Wallet and Android Pay app with Google Pay. In 2022, Google relaunched the Wallet app as a digital wallet platform for Android, Wear OS and Fitbit OS. However, in February this year, the search giant announced it would replace Google Pay with the Wallet app in the US

Unlike the US version, Google Pay in India uses the Indian government-backed Unified Payments Interface (UPI) to enable payments. This is one reason why Google Pay is different in India, and also a reason why it might choose to continue offering users a separate option if they already use it.

Google Pay is the second most used UPI app in India after Walmart’s PhonePe, giving Google a clear reason to continue supporting this app while offering digital wallet-related experiences through the Wallet app. The Google Pay app initiated more than 5 billion transactions worth more than $83 billion in March facts posted by UPI parent organization National Payments Corporation of India.