Google Wallet takes its 1st trip overseas into UK Gmail accounts

For the first time, someone outside the U.S. will be able to use a Google Wallet to do something more than buy Android apps and content. Starting on Thursday, Google is bringing Send Money in Gmail money transfer to the UK, allowing users to transfer money to Wallet accounts via email messages, Google revealed in its Commerce Blog.

That’s by no means the full extent of Wallet’s capabilities, but it’s a big step considering the only Google Wallet feature available internationally has been in-store purchases on Google Play. There’s still no word on when the Google Wallet app will be available in the U.K., which would let smartphone users make direct money transfers, store their gift and loyalty cards and make contactless credit and debit card payments on Android phones that sport NFC chips.

But given the runaway success of Apple Pay (which has also driven more use of Wallet), you can bet Google is weighing an international expansion of mobile payments service as well. [company]Apple[/company] has confirmed it aims to bring Pay to U.K. iPhones and merchants in 2015.

For U.K. Gmail users, a £ icon will soon appear in the attachment bar of a Gmail missive (in the same place the $ appears in U.S. Gmail accounts today). You just click on that £ sign to either send money to or request money from the email’s recipient. Google created a video to show how it works:


Both parties need to have a Wallet account linked to a debit or bank account for the transaction to process. But as with competing peer-to-peer payment services such as PayPal, Square Cash, Venmo, Google will let you send money to anyone regardless of whether they have Gmail or Wallet accounts. The recipient, however, will be prompted to set up a Wallet account if they don’t already have one.

It’s a smart move by Google to launch with its Gmail money transfer service in the UK because it could lead to more Britons signing up for Wallet accounts. That means Google could have a larger ingrained user base for its financial services when it eventually launches the full-fledged Wallet app overseas.