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Google GBuy Launch Later This Month To Challenge PayPal?

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Google's GBuy Could Be 'Revolutionary' from Forbes covers news from RBC analyst Jordan Rohan that Google's existing payment system -- Google Payments -- may be expanded for any merchant to use outside of Google Base.

SEW's chief news correspondent Barry Schwartz has already documented how Google Payments works at Google Base, and he provides a round-up here. But Google Base isn't really a consumer-facing site. Sure, consumers go there -- but only if they are super-savvy or in the few instances where Google highlights Google Base listings in regular web search results.

As a result, Google Payments is hardly a PayPal-killer. Merchants who want to sell but can't take credit cards can't use Google Payments outside of Google Base, to my knowledge.

The RBC report suggest that will change as of June 28, that any merchant could use what it calls "GBuy" as a payment system outside of Google Base. Moreover:

On its core search results pages, Google will designate each merchant accepting GBuy as a "trusted GBuy merchant." If consumers view this as a mark of safety and security, Rohan believes this should increase click-through rate.

Bloomberg asked me about the system on Friday, and my response was this:

I think it's unlikely that Google would give merchants any type of mark in its regular or "core" search results. I think they'd be fearful searchers might interpret that as some type of paid inclusion or preferential system. Bid rank also isn't used for core search results. AdRank, however, is used for determining how paid listings appear. They might factor this into those paid listings. I also think they might do this in places where it would be more acceptable, such as in Google Base listings or the far-more consumer-facing Froogle site.

RBC's research note is big on the idea that by getting people into GBuy, Google will know what sites are handling transactions and thus be able to charge more for ads. Sure - but as I said, I think the idea that flags or icons will appear in regular results is unlikely.

RBC's note also pitches the idea that Google is building a one ID, one password system that might rival Microsoft's Passport system:

In other words, a user signed up with Google for GMail, Google Base, and now GBuy will be able engage in all kinds of activity on the web (including shop and pay) without having to log in to different services from different vendors; in concept, GBuy may be one piece of a larger "passport"-like system currently in place at MSN/ Hotmail.

If the idea is to challenge the horrible Passport system, then Google's on the right path. Currently, it Google can't even make the existing Google Accounts system it offers work right for its own services.

Havoc With Google Accounts from me last December covers some issues about this. I still see some of those problems continuing. Here's another person this month reporting the same.

And what's up with the GBuy name? Isn't it Google Payments? And where did Google Wallet go? And didn't Google swear it wouldn't compete with eBay-owned PayPal? OK:

  • Google Wallet: In June 2005, we started hearing about Google planning to handle online transactions through something code-named "Google Wallet."
     
  • We're Not After PayPay: So said Google CEO Eric Schmidt in late June 2005, after Google Wallet rumors heated up.
     
  • We Don't Believe You: So said the head of PayPal in December.
     
  • GBuy Will Have Icons & Everything: So said the Wall Street Journal, giving us the GBuy name. Unlike the RBC report, it said that GBuy icons would only be alongside paid ads.
     
  • Google Payments: Opened in February, "Google Payments" is the name widely given to the program (sign-up request here) that lets you take payments through Google Base.
     
  • Google Checkout: Last month, more rumors about the system perhaps being called Google Checkout, based on domains registered.

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