If you’re a Gmail user, you may have noticed a new money sign icon at the bottom of the compose window when writing a new email. Hovering over the icon, you see that you can “attach money” to the email! Sounds pretty cool right? So how does it actually work? Is it really free and do you need to have a Google account to receive the money?
In this article, I’ll explain the details behind Google’s new money transfer scheme, which is basically an upgrade to their fairly old Google Wallet program. Google Wallet is a payment system similar to Paypal. There are certain sites that let you checkout using Google Wallet. You can also download an app for your smartphone that lets you store loyalty cards and lets you send money to anyone. You can also get a Google Wallet Card, which is basically a debit card that you can use anywhere that MasterCard is accepted.
Let’s get back to Gmail for the moment. Here’s what that little icon looks like in the Compose windows of Gmail:
When you click on that button, you’ll get a new popup window with the Google Wallet logo. Before you can send money, you’ll have to verify your identity.
It basically asks you for your first name, last name and your home address. Note that a credit check will not be run.
After this, you’ll be asked to type in your birthday, the last four digits of your social security number and check a box agreeing to the electronic communication policy. At this point, you should get a message saying you’re all set. Now the fun part starts.
On this screen, you enter the amount of money you want to send. If you are sending from a linked bank account or from the Google Wallet balance, there is no fee. If you send from a credit card or debit card, there is a fee. However, it’s not that straight-forward. If you type in a value like $50, you see that the fee is being waived for the credit cards.
There was no mention of how much you could send with the fee being waived, so I kept playing with the numbers till figured out that you can send up to $250 from a credit or debit card without any fees. That’s pretty cool. I’m not sure how long this free $250 offer is valid or if it’s just for the first time you send money. It may be that the second time, you have to pay the 2.9% regardless of the amount.
Click the Attach button and the money will be “attached” to the email. It basically adds a Google Wallet box to the bottom of the email.
When you click the Send button, you’ll be asked to sign into Google Wallet for extra security.
In the above screenshots, you can also see that in order to send money, the recipient must live in the United States and must either already have or sign up for Google Wallet. If you already have a Google account, signing up for Google Wallet is just a few clicks. If the other person does not use Gmail or have a Google account, they will need to create one when signing up for Google Wallet.
Once you send the email, you will get charged for the amount immediately. On the receiving end, the person will get a email as shown below:
The person can either Claim money or Return money. Clicking Claim money will redirect the user to the Google Wallet page. Here you will have to verify your identity and choose whether you want to link a bank account and transfer the money there or just leave it in your Google Wallet balance.
If you click on Return money, you’ll just be asked to confirm that you want to return it and that’s it. The money will then be transferred back to the sender. If no claims the money for 14 days, the money automatically gets sent back to the sender.
Another option outside of transferring to your bank account is to get a Google Wallet card. This card acts just like a normal debit card from your bank. You can use a pin code to withdraw money from an ATM. What’s nicer about the Google Wallet card is that if you lose it, you can remotely disable the card yourself by just logging into your account. It also includes fraud protection and will cover 100% of unauthorized transactions.
Of course, there are competitors out there that do something very similar. For example, Square Cash is a service from Square that lets you send cash to anyone for free by linking your debit card. Google Wallet has the extra feature of being able to use a credit card too. If you’re already in the Google ecosystem, you’ll get more benefits by using Google Wallet.
In addition to sending money, you can also use the Google Wallet app on your smartphone to store all your loyalty cards. If you buy deals from Google Offers too, those are automatically stored in the app and can be used when making a purchase. Have you ever used Google Wallet? What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments.