Many tech companies are looking to blockchain and crypto to optimize operations. But Google has taken a back seat. Until now.
Nearly a month into 2022, the search engine giant is finally showing signs it could make crypto and blockchain a major part of operations.
Poaching a Top Payments Expert
Last week, Google made a huge splash when it hired Arnold Goldberg - a former PayPal executive - to spearhead its popular Google Pay division.
Aiming to improve payments across Google's ecosystem of applications, Google Pay has lagged behind other online payment processors taking big chunks of the market. Google and Goldberg believe crypto could help.
Speaking with Bloomberg, Bill Ready, Google's President of Commerce, said they are seriously considering adding cryptocurrencies to the service's catalog. Ready pointed out that customer and merchant demand are swinging towards cryptocurrencies, presenting an opportunity for Google Pay.
Ready said they want to overhaul Google Pay, turning it into a "comprehensive digital wallet" covering everything from online tickets to vaccine cards. Currently, services like Apple Pay allow customers to store digital versions of their vaccine cards easily.
Goldberg is the perfect person for the job, according to Ready. Having spent years at PayPal - the world's largest payment processor - Golberg has extensive experience with payments and online transactions.
Interestingly, PayPal has swayed in the pro-crypto direction over the past year. The company expanded support for crypto for the first time in October 2020 and has since allowed customers to transact and even trade with some leading coins.
In January, PayPal announced it had started early research on a possible dollar-pegged stablecoin that customers could use in processing crypto transactions.
Google's Numerous Crypto Inroads
By embracing crypto with Google Pay, Google joins its Big Tech compatriots in preparing for emerging technologies.
This isn't to say that Google hasn't made other pro-crypto moves. In April 2021, Google partnered with the Gemini Exchange to allow the latter's customers to make easy Bitcoin purchases using Google Pay. The partnership also extended to the Apple Pay platform, Gemini claiming its customers could now enjoy even more convenient ways to buy Bitcoin and a host of other assets.
In June, Google partnered with Coinbase to allow the latter's users to pay for items online using Google Pay and their Coinbase Card. According to the announcement, Coinbase said customers who use the Coinbase Card via Google Pay could earn up to 4 percent in crypto rewards for their online shopping.
Now that Google is joining the crypto game with Google Pay, the company hopes to attract crypto-loving users who've had problems finding convenient payment channels. The move also opens the door for additional pro-crypto ventures from Google.
Betting Big on Blockchain
The Google Pay move is laudable, but it's not the only overture Google is making to emerging technologies.
Recently, Thomas Kurian, the CEO of Google Cloud, told reporters they'd launched a new enterprise focused on optimizing blockchain applications as they look to expand into other industries. As Kurian explained, the new group will focus on retail and healthcare, marking a departure from Google's years-long focus on advertising and cloud file storage.
Moving forward, Google Cloud plans to hire blockchain experts to make its cloud service more decentralized, safe, and scalable. The company also hopes to leverage its network in the blockchain space.
Several top blockchain firms - including Theta Labs, Dapper Labs, and Hedera - already use Google Cloud to improve security and scalability. The company wants to leverage their expertise as it moves into blockchain and optimizes for other industries.
Like Google Pay, the Google Cloud division is another part of Google that has lagged behind competitors. While most Google users appreciate the service, Google Cloud has failed to surpass big names like Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services (AWS) in enterprise applications. And enterprise applications provide the bulk of cloud revenue. AWS is the undisputed king in that regard. Google hopes to grab some of the market share, and is counting on blockchain to lend a hand.