Google Checkout

Need a way to take payments through your website? Having trouble getting a merchant account? Not happy with PayPal? Now there’s another solution. It’s been rumored for a long time and now Google has finally launched Google checkout. Google’s aim according to CEO Eric Schmidt is to make it faster and easier to buy products advertised on Google.

The concept of an online wallet is hardly new and it’s been expected Google would do this for awhile joining companies like Microsoft, AOL, and Yahoo. Among online wallets only PayPal has ever attracted widespread use though I suspect Checkout will gain enough traction given its wide user base.

Google Checkout For Merchants

Google will be displaying a small shopping cart icon next to the url of any store that accepts Google Checkout in their search results. Something that will no doubt cause anyone who signs up for Checkout to become a more loyal Google user. The icons don’t seem to be appearing at the moment I’m writing, but most likely will start to show up soon and there is already a list of merchants who have signed up to accept payments through the new system.

Google Checkout Button

Sites will display the Google Checkout button above on their sites when it’s time to pay. Merchants will be charged 20 cents plus 2% of the purchase price to process the transaction, a much better rate than PayPal currently charges.

Merchant will also receive an additional benefit of Google waiving some of the transaction fees if they buy ads through AdWords. For every $1 spent on advertising Google will waive the fees on $10 worth of transactions which will essentially mean a 20% savings on advertising. That alone will probably be enough to get merchants to sign up for the service, though it could also result in a backlash among AdWords users not wanting to add Checkout to their sites.

Google Checkout For Consumers

New users will need to fill out the typical shopping cart information while returning users will simply have to login with their Google Account username and password as a way of one click shopping. Google will also provide fraud protection to ensure no one else can spend money on your account.

Checkout will allow you to see all of your purchases, track deliveries, and contact merchants all through a single page at Google, where you will be able to manage the details of your account. You’ll be able to store several credit cards as well as shipping addresses. The one page management will offer consumers convenience as will having to remember a single username and password for shopping since all is done through Google instead of the individual merchant sites.

If you choose, Google will not share your full credit card number with any merchant and even allow you to keep your email address hidden to reduce the number of spam email offers you get. More people will undoubtely trust Google to protect their data as well as the trasnaction itself over the multitide of online stores they may shop. Of course many will stil be concerned with Google themselves having all this information given the overwhelming amount of information they already have about most of of us.

Checkout And PayPal

The comparisons to PayPal will be obvious especially given the alliance between PayPal owner eBay and Yahoo. On the same day the alliance was announced Google registered the googlecheckout.com domain, though the service is actually located at checkout.google.com. While the comparisons will be coming there are some differences in the services.

Google will not include the ability to transfer money to and from checking accounts. Nor will you be able to send money from one Checkout member to another. Both of those are big reasons PayPal has been so successful. The lower rates and the advertising savings to merchants are clearly in Google’s favor and from the looks of the system the simplicity may make Checkout an option consumers like. There have always been issues with PayPal’s system given the ease of getting an account and horror stories abound of people getting ripped off using PayPal.

With all the information stored at Google instead of individual merchants I supect consumers will trust the service more, especially with the fraud protection and the ability to keep credit card and email information private. Private at least from everyone but Google and there are many who already believe Google has far too much of our information stored as it is.

Whatever you think though, about Google, it’s good bet that you’ll be seeing more and more Checkout buttons on sites and shopping cart icons on search results in the near future. The benefit to merchants is certainly good enough to get them on board and Google’s large base of users should be enough to get consumers to sign up. Being able to use Checkout at Google stores like Google video will be another incentive as will the typical ease of use of many things Google.

It will be interesting to see where Google takes Checkout and whether it will add some PayPal features over time. Will we start to see Google become more of a direct seller with Google Base, which has long been rumored as a way to compete directly with eBay. Hmm? Consumers will be able to search and advertise with Google instead of Yahoo, make purchases with Checkout instead of PayPal, and maybe in time buy direct from Google Base instead of eBay.

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