Internet search engine Google is finally launching its long-awaited online payment service. Called Google Checkout, the system allows customers to make purchases from Internet retailers without having to repeatedly enter credit card details.
The service will speed up the purchasing process by enabling customers to use payment and address information they keep on file with Google when buying products online.
The system can be used to make purchases from participating merchants across the Web and enables customers to track all orders in one place. Merchants that accept Checkout will be identified by a green shopping trolley icon next to ads.
According to press reports, Google had been working with retailers such as Starbucks, Jockey, Levis, Timberland and Buy.com to test the service.
Speculation has been mounting for more than a year about a payments system being developed by Google. It was thought that the e-payments service would rival E-Bay's PayPal service, despite Eric Schmidt, Google chief executive, insisting that it would not compete directly with the person-to-person system.
But although the new Checkout service is different to PayPal, the Google system does target the same off-E-bay markets coveted by the person-to-person payments pioneer.
Furthermore, the Google service is set to undercut fees charged to merchants by PayPal. Google will charge merchants 20 cents and two per cent of a total transaction cost to use the service, which is considerably lower than the 30 cents and 2.9% fees levied by PayPal. Google also plans to discount fees based on how much merchants spend on its advertising packages.