Following the overhaul of Google Pay in November, which saw the service expand into personal finance, the company is now introducing a new set of features aimed at making Google Pay a more integral part of its users’ daily lives. Google Pay will be updated to include new options for grocery savings, paying for public transportation, and categorizing their spending.
Google Pay users will now be able to browse their store’s weekly circulars, which feature the latest deals, thanks to partnerships with Safeway and Target. Safeway will add over 500 stores to the Google Pay platform, and Target stores across the country will offer a similar feature. Users of Google Pay will be able to save the recommended deals for later access. And, if the location is enabled, Google Pay will soon notify you of weekly deals when you are near a participating store.
Another update expands Google Pay’s transit features, which already support purchasing and using transit tickets in over 80 cities across the United States. Major markets, such as Chicago and the San Francisco Bay Area, will be added soon. This comes on the heels of Apple Pay’s recent and much-appreciated support for the Bay Area’s Clipper card. In addition, the company is collaborating with Token Transit to expand transit support to smaller towns across the United States.
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Soon, Android users will be able to access transit tickets from the app’s home screen via a “Ride Transit” shortcut. They can then buy, add to, or top up the balance on their transit cards. Once purchased, you’ll be able to show your transit card to a reader — or show a visual ticket if there isn’t one.
The final feature is intended for people who use Google Pay to manage their finances. With last year’s redesign, Google collaborated with 11 banks to launch Plex, a new type of bank account. Google’s app, which competes with the growing number of mobile-only digital banks, serves as a front-end to accounts hosted by partner banks such as Citi and Stanford Federal Credit Union.
Google Pay users will now have better access to their spending behavior, balances, bills, and more as part of that experience, thanks to the addition of an “Insights” tab. You’ll be able to see your balance, what bills are due, receive alerts about larger transactions, and track spending by category or business. Because Google is now automatically categorizing transactions, you’ll be able to search for general terms (like “food”) as well as specific business names (like “Burger King”), according to Google.
These features are part of Google’s strategy to use the payments app to collect more data on users, who will then be targeted with offers from Google Pay partners.
When the redesigned app first became available, users were asked to opt in to personalization features that would allow the app to show them better, more relevant deals. While Google claims that it does not provide your data directly to these third-party brands and retailers, the app serves as a channel for those businesses to reach potential customers at a time when the tracking industry is in turmoil due to Apple’s privacy changes. Google’s ability to assist brands in reaching consumers via Google Pay could prove to be a valuable service if the company can expand its user base and encourage more people to opt in to the personalization features.
To that end, Google Pay will be rolling out more useful or “must have” features in the coming weeks.