Phew. Google just spent three hours or so showing off new developer tools, APIs, service overhauls, and the occasional gadget, but not everything the search giant rolled out today got a turn under the spotlights at the Moscone Center. Case in point: according to a post on the official Google Commerce blog, Google Wallet support has been baked into Gmail, so users will soon be able to send each other money by simply shooting each other emails.
In the coming weeks and months, a dollar sign will start popping in Gmail accounts of people who already use Google Wallet, and a quick click lets users define the recipient and the amount they’d like to send along as an attachment. Since all of these transactions run through Google Wallet, the usual caveats are in place — sending funds from a connected bank account is totally gratis, but those who prefer to pay with credit or debit cards are subject to an additional 2.9 percent fee tacked on. You also need to be over 18 to take part in the funding fun, though.
Google is far from the first company to tackle the concept of sending money via email — JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, and Wells Fargo rolled out a method of transferring funds to people if you had their cell phone number or email address two years ago, but the setup process involved could be more than a little tedious if the recipient wasn’t a member of the same bank. At this point, it’s too early to pass judgment on Google’s approach, but the company seems intent on making the process much easier on all the parties involved, even if the person receiving the money isn’t a Gmail user.
More importantly, it’s possible that folding a level of Wallet support into Gmail could see adoption of the payment platform tick upward. After all, Google said around this time last year that Gmail played home to 425 million users, and a considerable chunk of them will eventually find themselves able to transfer money without many headaches involved. Google’s announcement of its Instant Buy APIto streamline the process of buying things from within an Android app could certainly play a role in expanding Wallet’s prominence. These developments may not seem as downright prominent a push as, say, a Google-branded Wallet card that would solidify the service’s presence in meatspace, but former Wallet chief Osama Bedler is out, and that ship has sailed.