The Google Checkout payment gateway has been available in the US for four years, but Australian online shoppers have been denied the service up until the launch of Google Voice, which uses Checkout to add credit to an account.
Google’s definition of Checkout is an online payment processing service designed to facilitate the processing of payments by debit or credit card between a buyer and seller.
The service is similar to PayPal and Visa’s new Payclick and acts as an online wallet service where buyers store their credit or debit card information with Google, which the processes the payment with participating merchants.
Until now, the only Australia-based sellers eligible to use Google Checkout were developers for the Android Marketplace, but Google is using the service to take calling credit payments for its new Voice service and the sign up form is open for new accounts.
Google Voice competes with Skype and, while it is integrated with Gmail, it requires a native browser plug-in for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux.
The service supports video calls and an Android mobile client is also available.
Accounts are credited with $0.10 for testing and free calls are available to phones in the US and Canada. Calls to an Australian landline are $0.02 per minute and $0.14 per minute to mobiles.
Google has established a company – Google Payment Australia Pty Limited – for local Checkout services and has a Australian Financial Services licence (No. 318755).
Google Australia holds the licence under which it is authorised to offer Google Checkout as a “non-cash payment product”. The company is not licensed as a bank or deposit-taking institution in Australia and does not provide banking services.
Google Checkout can be credited with Visa, Mastercard, American Express and Discover. Voice accounts are credited in blocks of $10 with Checkout.
The local launch of Google Voice has been met with privacy concerns as it is enabled by default in many Gmail e-mail accounts.
If Google Checkout is promoted by Google to wider consumers and businesses, it will be a welcome addition to the local payment gateway market which has been largely dominated by PayPal and a handful of banks and third-party providers.