Google is testing a new device called “Soundbox” in India, which sends audio payment notifications to merchants. Some stores are reportedly receiving the devices for free, according to TechCrunch.
Google is entering the Indian market by creating its own payment company, capitalizing on the popularity of sound-emitting devices (soundboxes) that play a sound when a mobile payment is made. India is the world’s second-largest digital market.
Soundpod by Google Pay
Google is reportedly distributing its own version of soundboxes, called Soundpod by Google Pay, in Northern India, including New Delhi. The device, developed by ToneTag, which is financed by Amazon, uses a QR code to accept UPI-based payments and has an integrated speaker to announce successful transactions in various languages.
Google’s Soundpod device features a built-in speaker that announces payment confirmations in different languages, as well as a small LCD panel that displays the payment amount, battery and network status and manual controls. It comes with a QR code linked to a merchant’s Google Pay for business account.
By scanning the QR code, users can pay for their purchases using any UPI-based app. Unlike its competitors, Google’s Soundpod does not support NFC payment as tap-and-pay is not popular in India, and many low-end smartphones lack integrated NFC hardware.
Google Pay in Indian Market
According to sources, Google is providing the Soundpod speakers to select merchants at no additional cost. In some cases, Google Pay representatives have given merchants a specific timeframe to receive and set up the speakers at their registered location. Google has been competing in India’s crowded payments market for some time, and the Soundpod is considered a necessary tool for mobile payments in India.
Google Pay faces competition from Paytm, PhonePe (owned by Walmart) and BharatPe (backed by Tiger Global), all of which have already launched their own branded soundboxes with multi-language support.
Small businesses and street vendors in India are now using payment soundboxes to verify customer payments through audio. The soundboxes help boost merchant purchases by providing a confirmation sound for successful transactions. They support multiple languages, have long battery life, and provide a daily transaction report.
Fintech companies charge merchants for these soundbox solutions, but may also give them away for free to attract sellers. The rental fees vary, with PhonePe charging Rs. 50 per month and Paytm charging Rs. 125 per month, depending on the merchant size and agency promotions.
Paytm was the first company to introduce soundboxes in 2020 and has since become a leader in the category, with over 5.8 million devices distributed to date. In addition to soundboxes, companies like Google and Paytm also provide businesses with QR code stickers and banners for easy UPI payments.
However, there is intense competition in the UPI market as companies aim to reach a large user base for small-ticket transactions, even if they do not generate direct revenue. This is because this large user base can be converted to customers for other products and services in the future.