A new feature allegedly on its way to Gmail will let you pay bills right from your inbox. The project, known internally as Pony Express, is detailed by Re/code, which says the project is set to launch sometime at the end of this year, and is being designed as “the future of paper mail.”
Re/code describes the service as a way for Google to make an entrance into “industries such as personal finance or lending,” adding that the data “could be used to refine how advertisements are targeted to individuals on Google, YouTube and partnering sites.” In order to participate, Gmail users will apparently need to provide personal information such as their name, address and even their Social Security number to a third-party company.
Google is reportedly working on partnerships with third-party vendors that would otherwise send out paper or electronic bills to people. With the right information inputted, you’d simply receive your bill, and pay it right then and there. The goal here is to obviously make paying bills more convenient for folks, while also keeping users entrenched inside Google’s ecosystem. And the more information available to Google, the better.
Per the screenshots provided by Re/code, Google could set up a Pony Express folder in each user’s Gmail, making it easier to organize and keep track of bills. If your debit or credit card is linked, you’ll simply see the amount due, press pay, and voila. Whether this new feature will work with Google Wallet is unclear, but one would assume it’ll somehow play a part.
In addition to paying bills right from a user’s inbox, Pony Express will also make it easy to divide bills and share them with friends, like a roommate. That would cutout services like SquareCase or Venmo, which allows users to send each other money, but not necessarily contribute to a single bill itself.
If Pony Express isn’t scheduled to be available until Q4 of this year, Google likely won’t reveal the full details anytime soon.