Oh, this looks interesting. Google Wallet (formerly Google Checkout) is introducing email payments to some of it’s Gmail users (presumably in advance of a broader roll out).
Integrating neatly with your gmail attachment options, a little $ sign will allow you to send money free (free from your Google Wallet balance or from your bank account) to any other Google user. Money can also be sent from your phone using the service.
All up, it looks pretty handy.The obvious advantage it has over competitive services (PayPal, for one) is that it integrates so seamlessly with tools people already use. No need to visit a separate website to send money. The fee’s are lower to – well, ‘low’ as in free if sending from your bank account – compared with PayPal’s 3.4% per transaction, Google will only charge you 2.9% for debit or credit card transactions.
Google Checkout – which will be phased out in November of this year – had a fairly clunky ecommerce capability. I used to use it sometimes for recurring payments. I’d be interested to know if the plans for Wallet include a better e-commerce option down the road. But for now, sending money from email is cool enough.