Google is currently working on a project that will allow Gmail users to more easily receive bills in their email inbox instead of their mailbox. Called Pony Express, the service also is designed to let people pay their bills within Gmail, rather than having to go to a telecom or utility company’s website to complete a payment.
The new service is scheduled to start in the fourth quarter, according to the document. It’s not clear whether Pony Express is a code name or one that’ll be used if it comes to market.
This is how it will work. A Gmail user provides personal information such as their name, address and partial and full Social Security number to a third-party company that checks their identity. Users might also have to provide information such as a full credit card number or telephone service account number to get started, too. Google is also partnering with third-party vendors that print and mail out bills on behalf of service providers such as insurance companies, telecom companies and utilities. It’s not clear whether Google is also working directly with the service providers, too.
Once a user is authenticated, he or she can start receiving bills or other mail in Gmail or the Inbox app (Google’s new email app). E-billing is not a new thing as pretty much all major financial, telecom and utility companies allow for paperless billing. But Google could play up the fact it can organize a Gmail user’s bills automatically in a special Pony Express folder.
Pony Express also allows users to share a bill with another Gmail user, which is a pretty neat option for people that share a service, such a phone family plan, or people sharing a gas or water bill.
It seems that you will be able to connect a bank account or a debit card to Pony Express to pay bills. As of now it seems to be free of charge and Google might just be looking to gather very valuable financial data from its customers. We’ll have to wait to find out more details about the project, in order to see if there will be any added value for our hobbies.