Search, Find, Buy. No Hold-Ups at the Web Checkout ; as Google Rolls out an Online-Payment Rival to PayPal, Will Our Security Worries Vanish?
Kassam, Isabelle, The Independent on Sunday (London, England)
Many of us spend hours of our time browsing online for the latest iPod accessory, designer sunglasses or mobile phone, but the way we shop for those "must-have" purchases could be about to change.
At the end of June, Google, the internet's most popular search engine, launched Google Checkout - a new tool that should make online retail therapy both faster and easier.
Recognisable by a little green shopping-trolley icon, Checkout is the latest addition to the stable of money-making schemes operated by Google. Initially it will be available only on US shopping sites, but the company says it is working on turning this into a global system. Analysts expect it to be expanded to the UK, and beyond, within a matter of months.
Checkout is a rival to the web-payment service PayPal, which in eight years has built up 114 million accounts online. But despite promising pain-free shopping, the new kid on the block faces a long game of catch-up.
Here's how it works: once registered on Google Checkout, shoppers can buy any item where they see the shopping-trolley icon. Their personal and credit-card details are held on a database, so they don't have to resubmit them every time they make a purchase.
When you search for a particular product on Google, you will be able to see at a glance which of the sites are signed up to the Checkout scheme. You can then choose, if you wish, to browse only on those sites.
Consumers can benefit from being able to keep track of orders and deliveries of all the items they have bought online - all on one site.
"By integrating the checkout process with search and advertising, we're helping our users complete the cycle of searching, finding and buying," says Salar Kaman-gar, spokesman for product management at Google. "In the offline world, shoppers don't tolerate long lines and tedious data entry just to buy something. They shouldn't have to in the online world either."
While Checkout is an obvious add-on to the Google brand, PayPal is also growing into a full-blown financial services provider. It recently launched its own credit card, and linked its payment system to web-enabled mobile phones.
According to research in the US by financial services analyst Jupiter Research, nearly three-quarters of people who have been online in the past 12 months have bought something. Further findings show that those who have not made purchases have been deterred by concerns about their credit-card details falling into the wrong hands.
This fear of fraud is the reason why both Checkout and PayPal stress the security benefits of buying online using their systems - as opposed to entering your details on several sites across the web. Both services act as intermediaries and pledge not to reveal the consumer's full credit-card number to retailers.
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Article title: Search, Find, Buy. No Hold-Ups at the Web Checkout ; as Google Rolls out an Online-Payment Rival to PayPal, Will Our Security Worries Vanish?. Contributors: Kassam, Isabelle - Author. Newspaper title: The Independent on Sunday (London, England). Publication date: July 3, 2006. Page number: 24. © 2009 The Independent on Sunday. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.
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