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It’s Not GoogleBuy, Let Alone GoogleMoney June 29, 2006

Posted by David Card in Commerce.

Google Checkout is about 2/3 of a wallet service, circa 2001. The pitch to users: you don’t have to fill in your credit card and mailing info for every merchant, you can trust Google with your information. To merchants: if you buy Google paid search, you don’t have to pay transaction costs for Checkout.

Key points:

– This isn’t a complete alternative payments system (not a PayPal killer), nor micropayments, nor a shopping cart, nor identity management. In fact, it’s a little hard to say what it is at release. I think consumers will puzzle over figuring it out. It’ll get bigger, no doubt, over time. But make no mistake, there’s no prepay/debit mechanism yet. And Google isn’t doing batch payments or aggregating things the way real micropayments companies have to. It’s not doing real merchant ratings, either.

– Google paid search marketers who use Checkout will get a little icon (badge) in their paid ads, not in their organic search results.

– Rates for merchants are 2% plus 20 cents/transaction, contrary to previous printed reports. Compared to PayPal, no particular bargain.

– When they briefed me, Google didn’t mention Froogle or Base. What’s up with that?

Is this aimed at smaller merchants? Maybe, but how hard is it to accept credit card payments? Is this really for digital content vendors? For bloggers who want to charge less than a dollar? For shady digital content companies (i.e., porn)? Big deal.

Will users trust Google more than some merchants? Absolutely. Will Checkout deliver portable identity or shopping carts or payment systems across merchants? No. Not yet. Will it kill PayPal. Absolutely not.

I still think a real, live Google “currency” that integrates Adwords as well as $$, will be huge. This ain’t it. At least not yet.

I’m only posting this now, because Charlene already did, and I can’t sleep. Otherwise, I’d have waited till the PR crossed the wires. And I’m no retail nor payments analyst, so take me with a huge grain of salt. Call the real experts.

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