Google is reportedly working on a project that will enable Gmail users receive and pay their bills within their email accounts.
According to a report published by Recode website, the service, dubbed Pony Express, would allow Gmail users to pay service providers and other bills without being required to go to a telecom or utility company's website to complete the payment.
The Re/code website also details the procedure through which users can sign up for the service. Gmail users will be required to provide their personal information to a third-party company that would verify and register their identity. Users will be asked to provide information such as a full credit card number or social security numbers to get started.
Once the authentication process is complete, users will start receiving bills in Gmail or the Inbox app. Even though e-billing exists, Google will auto-sort users mails for bills and put them in the Pony Express folder.
With Pony Express, Google could essentially use the financial information that would allow it to expand into new business ventures. The payment methods and bill history would be an entryway into industries such as personal finance or lending. The data would only further allow the search giant to throw up more customised ads on their screen through YouTube, Google and partnering sites, though such a move would likely incite privacy concerns.
The Re/code report indicates that the new feature reveals Google's larger objective of bringing all the information online, digitizing everything around us. It’s still unclear if Google would generate any revenue directly from the Pony Express service.
The Pony Express service enables users to pay a bill right from within the service, using a link with a bank account or a connected debit card. Though Google Wallet is the similar feature set up for the same purpose, currently this service doesn't allow for payments through bank account and the Pony Express service could mean an extension of the Wallet feature.
The service also lets users share bills with other Gmail users, meaning users can automate the process of splitting house rent or food bills with their friends or roommates. Other features include customer service contact information for a given service provider and an option that allow users to click a photo of a physical piece of mail to have it archived in digital form in Pony Express.
The Pony Express service is expected to start in the fourth quarter.