February 18, 2015
BebaPay was a payment card that was launched by Google and Equity Bank in Kenya back in 2013. The card, which enabled users to pay for bus fare via NFC, will be discontinued from March 2015. We saw Google withdraw BebaPay from the Philippines market around 10 months ago as well. Google had more than 100,000 active BebaPay users. In Kenya, BebaPay customers have been advised to switch to Equity prepaid MasterCard at no additional cost.
Google also offered the BebaPay app which can turn any NFC enabled Android phone into a card reader. This enabled shops, traders and small businesses to use BebaPay to accept payments from customers without the need for cash registers. Google seems to be consolidating projects to reduce its focus in the payments space.
Earlier, Google had revealed plans to discontinue the Wallet API support for digital goods by March 2nd 2015. Google claimed they would continue supporting the sales of apps on Google Play and other in-app stores, but that these purchases wouldn’t be possible through Google Wallet in 2015. Google had posted this on their wallet support page, but an official announcement has yet to be made.
Google has also begun testing a new service called Plaso which would allow Android phone users to pay at retailers using a new retail point-of-sale software that integrates into retailers’ existing payment processing systems (according to The Information). The Plaso service appears to be using BLE (Bluetooth low energy) based beacon technology to detect payment apps on customer’s smartphones.
Google seems to be shifting gears in the payments space. After having invested in creating consumer centric payments products, Google seems to be moving towards the merchant side of things with its new Plaso project.