LIVE FROM WSJ D.LIVE, HONG KONG: Google plans to build on the success of its Tez mobile payment platform in India, built specifically for the market, by continuing to invest in products tailor made to India and other rapidly growing emerging markets.
Caesar Sengupta, VP of the Next Billion Users team at Google (pictured, left), said since most of Google’s future users will come from markets like India, Indonesia and Nigeria, it realised it needed to start thinking differently and build products specifically for them.
“We are investing a lot in India, largely because there are more users in India for many of our products than anywhere else. We also see a lot of innovation in India…that has the opportunity to leapfrog [to other countries]. Our thesis is the future of the consumer internet will originate from places like Mumbai, Lagos and Jakarta, rather than in Silicon Valley.”
He said the company thought it was late to the payment space in India when it launched Tez in September 2017, but it thinks it’s already the number two player: some 16 million active users completed 350 million transactions in the space of six months.
“We’ve worked with the India government [and] in many ways created the way mobile payments are done in India. Tez launched on top of a platform the government built call the Unified Payments Interface (UPI),” he explained.
A month before Tez launch there were 17 million transactions on UPI: in February there were 170 million.
Google is targeting other predominately cash-based markets with an appetite for digital payments. Earlier in the month a Google executive identified three Asian countries and one other emerging market for expansion of the Tez platform.
Sengupta said it hasn’t decided on the specific countries, but is looking at Southeast Asia, South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa – markets with similar dynamics, such as low credit card penetration.
“We think there’s tremendous opportunity in these countries to move to digital on a large scale over the next ten years,” he said.
While Google has largely pulled out of China, the largest computing and internet market in the world, it runs three offices in the mainland employing 700 people, with most of them supporting its OEMs. It recently opened an artificial intelligence lab in Beijing.