Google Now may soon let you pay some of your bills. The company knows that in order to get and keep new customers, they need to keep rolling out new services that people want. That’s the whole reason behind their new “Now” platform. They’re trying to turn it into a complete personal assistant.
Already Familiar with Google Now?
If you own an Android device, you may have seen the icon for it. On my Samsung tablet, the icon looks like a microphone. I can use it to search for information if I’m too lazy to type. Just tap the icon (when doing so, you’ll probably see a drawing of snowcapped mountains) and say “Ok, Google” followed by your search query. Honestly, you only need to say “Google,” but most of the commercials show people saying the whole thing, “Ok, Google, tell me about famous speeches.”
Google Now lets you check on traffic and weather. You can ask it for the scores to last night’s games. If you’re following a specific subject, you can have it update you every morning on new developments. You can also set it up to deliver alerts, such as meeting and flight notifications. Google Now can also be configured to give you relevant information about areas/neighborhoods you’re in. Hungry? Have the app tell you where the best Chinese food is near you. It’s great to help self-guided sightseers catch all the best sites.
How Information is Arranged in Google Now
In a previous article introducing Google Now, I mentioned that the information you configure it to present is done so on cards. You swipe through them pretty much like you swipe through your app and widgets screens on your device. Right now, what the app lets you do is set reminders for all your recurring bills, when they’re due and how much is due.
What Google is working on right now is adding information about minimum payments and adding links to paying those bills online. They’re also working on allowing you to search through your bills, finding out when your next bill is due and what the amount due is. They’re also working on integrating it with Google Wallet.
What Is Google Wallet?
Google Wallet is a little like Paypal in that it allows you to pay for products and services online without directly exposing your financial information to the websites you’re buying at. It has evolved into an app that you can use to pay for in-app upgrades of other apps, YouTube and Drive purchases, and also to send money to people, as well as paying your bills. Simply give the Wallet app the info regarding your bills and how you wish to pay them, and you will receive timely reminders when the bills are due. Tying it all together, once everything is in place (maybe later this year), you’ll be able to say “OK Google, pay my Comcast bill.”
There’s Always a Catch, Isn’t There?
Bill Pay with Google Now sounds like an excellent plan. Convenience and ease of use ready to go. Sure, you could set up recurring bill pay, but what happens when the money isn’t there? That’s what makes this a pretty cool idea. However, like most other pretty good ideas, there’s a catch.
That catch is security. Unlike Paypal, you’re paying with your actual credit or debit cards and bank accounts. Of course, this isn’t always true if you have people sending money to your Google Wallet account, you’ll be paying out of that. But the Android system is notoriously unsafe in its data handling practices.
There’s also the fact that most of your payments will be made through websites that make use of OpenSSL and have the Heartbeat option set. This configuration makes them ripe for the Heartbleed server vulnerability. Heartbleed lets hackers impersonate legitimate websites, leading to a myriad of possible problems.
In all honesty, I think that Bill Pay with Google Now is something we’re ready for. You just have to take certain precautions to protect yourself from fraud. I laid most of these steps out in the linked article.