Google has been making gradual progress expanding its payments services outside of the U.S. market, with P2P money transfer services now working in the UK and a deal with Visa Europe to expand Android Pay acceptance in 37 countries on the continent. In the meantime, it’s also working on ways of inching closer to European merchants and their payments strategies.
Today, Ingenico, one of the world’s biggest makers of point-of-sale hardware and payment acceptance services, announced that it is working with the search giant on a new program called the “Export Accelerator”, a cross-border selling initiative, with the first pilot of the service in Belgium.
While Ingenico does build POS hardware that works with services like Apple Pay, this partnership does not currently integrate any Android Pay or Google Wallet functionality. Rather, Google will tap into its search analytics to provide business intelligence to merchants.
The news comes at an interesting time for Google on the e-commerce front. On one hand, the company is planning to add a “buy button” to paid search results, giving browsers a way of buying products directly within those results rather than navigating elsewhere, and Google getting a cut in the process.
But on the other, its Google Shopping service is currently being investigated by European regulations over antitrust violations — specifically claims that Google’s own vertical e-commerce search engine is anticompetitive versus other online marketplaces when it comes to searches for products.
“Our preliminary view in the [statement of objections] is that in its general Internet search results Google artificially favors its own comparison shopping service and that this constitutes an abuse,” Europe’s antitrust chief, Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said when her office issued its formal Google Shopping statement of objections in April.
In other words, while Google is certainly looking at ways of extending its search results with transactions and getting closer to merchants and their advertising budgets, it would be an awkward time for the company to expand those services to include payment options to merchants in Europe specifically.
If Google finds a way through the regulatory investigations, this lays some groundwork for working further with Ingenico. On the other side, the partnership could also point to ways that Google may build out business services for e-commerce companies, were the company ever forced by regulators to change how it operates its search results.
Export Accelerator focuses on a selling model that is especially persistent in the European market. In a region with many separate but conjoining countries, consumers are more likely to roam across borders for work and leisure; and online, are also potentially buying products online across borders as well.
Trying to solve that effectively kills three birds with one stone: Merchants, especially smaller merchants, may be missing out on the international opportunity as a way to grow their business — and both Ingenico and Google in turn are missing out on the transactional and ad revenues they could get as a result.
“The Export Accelerator is a great way to help Belgian businesses to grow online. Businesses that invest in online grow twice as fast as companies that don’t. It’s our goal to inspire as many Belgian entrepreneurs as possible to make use of the opportunities provided by the web. There are 11 million consumers in Belgium; the 2.5 billion potential consumers worldwide provide a huge export opportunity. This collaboration with Ingenico Group will make it easier for Belgian businesses to tap into that potential.” said Thierry Geerts, country director Google Belgium, in a statement.
The other interesting thing about this partnership is how it plays on ways that Google may grow its analytics business. Online merchants will use Google data to “identify export opportunities leveraging search insights,” and will also use the data to help build their traffic. Ingenico, meanwhile, will provide “solutions to successfully convert this traffic into sales via its payment expertise and advanced technologies.” This will cover payments, payment analytics, fraud data and risk management.
“We are very pleased to team up with Google and to leverage our position in the payment ecosystem,” commented Stephen Buechner, EVP e-payments at Ingenico Group, in a statement. “This cooperation demonstrates our ability to continue to simplify payment for merchants while helping them to easily and securely expand across borders.”