Google Entering the Bill Delivery & Payment Market?

Matt Swain
Mar 30, 2015

Last week, Re/code published an article which reported that Google is working on a project called Pony Express to help customers receive and pay their bills within their Gmail accounts. Google declined to comment.

In our 2011 study entitled The Emergence of Digital Mailbox Services, we explored the possibility of a leading consumer technology service vendor entering—and disrupting—this market. Here’s an excerpt from that study:

When things go digital, there is significant potential for radical changes in the players and economics associated with an industry and associated business processes. Retail, music, advertising, and social interaction are a few areas that have been radically transformed over the last ten years by the likes of Amazon, Apple, Google, and Facebook. What if one or more of these companies decides to enter the market with a more innovative and far-reaching service to help consumers transform their “life documents”?

Each of these consumer technology services giants has important assets that could be applied to the customer communications market in ways that traditional banks, billers, and service providers cannot or are unwilling to for fear of impacting their lucrative business.

We actually tested American consumers’ receptivity to Google as a destination to receive transactional communications and pay bills. When presented with a list of more than 25 companies, consumers ranked Google as the #2 most preferred destination (Amazon was #1). In a 2013 study, we asked consumers about their interest in paying the majority of their bills within their Google experience. About 42% of respondents between the ages of 18 and 44 were interested in this option, with older respondents being less interested in Google as a bill pay destination.

Just last year, research for clients of our Transactional Communications & Payments advisory service asked American consumers about where they would want to consolidate household accounts (bills, statements, and other communications). As shown in the Figure below, two responses stood out—bank and credit union websites (38%) and e-mail providers (31%).

We already witnessed some exploration of bill consolidation in the e-mail channel from Manilla and its 2013 partnership with AOL for AOL Bill Manager. While Hearst chose to shut down Manilla last year, some consumers actually petitioned to keep it open, with commenters saying they would even be willing to pay to retain the service.

If Google does launch a service like what the Re/code article detailed, it has the brand recognition, user base, and resources to make a strong run at disrupting the household bill delivery and payments markets. Like the entrants before them, a remaining hurdle will be in getting the bill & statement providers onboard.


Matt Swain
Director, Advisory Services:

Transactional Communications & Payments
Document Outsourcing


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