Internet search engine Google has launched its Web payments processing service Checkout in the UK.
Google Checkout allows users to make purchases from online retailers without having to repeatedly enter credit card details.
The Google service was launched in the US last June and was widely seen as a challenge to the eBay-owned PayPal service. Although it is different to a person-to-person payments system, the Google service does target the same e-commerce markets as PayPal. Last year the electronic auction house added Google Checkout to the list of payment services that are prohibited on its Web sites.
But despite the threat PayPal has continued to grow since the US launch of Google Checkout and now has more than 133 million user accounts worldwide, including 35 million in Europe. In the UK, PayPal has over 15 million accounts, representing over a third of the adult population and over half of all Internet users.
Google said in February that it had signed up 20% of the Web's top 500 retailers to Checkout in its first six months of operation. In October the company introduced new incentives for merchants to join up to the service, including free processing of credit card transactions.
Google is also offering incentives to UK merchants. In a blog posting Jerry Dischler, senior product manager, Google Checkout, says from now until 2008, merchants that offer Checkout in the UK will receive free credit and debit card processing for all Checkout sales. Furthermore, buyers that use Google Checkout will get £10 off all orders over £30.