Google is offering its Wallet services to UK users for the first time, offering payments through Gmail accounts.

The Send Money in Gmail feature lets users attach money to an email message by clicking a ‘£’ icon, before pressing send to complete the transfer.

© iStock/LICreate
© iStock/LICreate

The recipient does not need to have a Gmail address, but both those sending and receiving funds require a Google Wallet account which is linked to a credit or debit card. The money can then be kept in the digital wallet, spent on Google Play apps and services, or moved back to a bank account.

“You can also request money in Gmail by hovering over the attachment paperclip and clicking the £ icon to attach the request to a Gmail message,” said Travis Green, Product Manager, Google Wallet, in a blog post.

The free service has been available in the US for two years, and will be gradually rolled out in the UK over the next few weeks to customers over the age of 18.

The launch of the service comes as large technology companies continue to push further into areas traditionally seen as the preserve of financial services firms.

Apple is preparing to launch its payments service, Apple Pay, in the UK, after a successful US launch last year, and Facebook has also indicated a desire to offer money transfer services in Europe, applying for regulatory approval from Ireland’s Central Bank to last year. Meanwhile SnapChat has unveiled its SnapCash system.

Amazon recently dropped its own pilot wallet service, available in the US only, claiming that it had learnt a “great deal” from the experiment, and would look to apply its knowledge on “future innovations”.

Although Google’s Wallet service has not had the desired success since launching four years ago, the search giant is rumoured to be building out its payments capabilities, with recent reports that it will acquire mobile payments firm Softcard, formerly Isis.

The move into payments by non-traditional players has caught the attention of those within the financial services industry, with the potential to rival certain banking services.