As part of a push to boost its payment platform, Google announced a partnership with marketing consultancy ChowNow that’ll see Google Wallet integrated across the company’s portfolio of products.
The name ChowNow may not ring a bell, but chances are you’ve used one of the startup’s branded apps before. ChowNow works with small food businesses to create online presences by maintaining smartphone apps, websites, and social media accounts, handling everything from payments to ordering. “We continue to uphold our mission of helping independent restaurants compete with larger chains by providing them with technology that would be both difficult and cost-prohibitive for them to build themselves,” said CEO of ChowNow Chris Webb in a press release.
It’s in that holistic spirit that the company’s introducing Google Wallet support. Available as a free update to ChowNow’s many products, it will allow diners to tap into balances on stored credit cards, loyalty cards, and gift cards.
ChowNow’s thousands of customers are a meaningful addition to the Google Now ecosystem, an ecosystem which developers have been slow to join on Android. This sluggish adoption is perhaps one reason why the search giant is revamping its platform with Android Pay, a new software layer that’ll support secure physical and virtual payments.
Google exec Sundar Pichai acknowledged these plans at Mobile World Congress earlier this year, but details aren’t expected until Google’s I/O developer conference in June.
In the meantime, Google continues to make moves in the mobile payments sphere. In March the company purchased the remains of Softbank, a failed payments venture between wireless carriers Verizon Wireless, AT&T, and T-Mobile. Google has also been testing a payment system called “Plaso,” a contextually-aware payment mechanism similar to Square’s discontinued Square Wallet. And the company’s working on a new component for Gmail, code-named Pony Express, that automates bill pay.
Competing systems like Apple Pay may have a head start, but Google’s attacking the problem of mobile payments from an impressive number of directions. Time will tell which approach ends up being the most successful.