This is rumor control, and here are the facts. Google has big plans for Google Now. The plans don't stop at getting directions, searching, and reminding you to feed the cat. Google plans on taking over as your personal assistant, your personal secretary, and (possibly soon) your personal banker. That's right, Google wants your mobile device to serve as the means to pay your bills.
Or, at least, help you pay your bills.
How will this work? With the help of Google Now and bill-specific Cards, you can set up reminders to pay utilities, credit cards, cell providers, and more. When the reminder pops up, you'll see the amount due, the minimum payment, and a link that will allow you to pay the bill online. You'll also be able to search all of your upcoming bills.
"Okay, Google Now, when is my next bill due?"
That would come in handy for a lot of people. It would also make paying your bills while on-the-go incredibly easy.
This, of course, comes with a price. That price is security. We're talking about some very sensitive information: account numbers, credit card numbers, and social security numbers. These are digits no one wants out in the wild. With more and more identity and card theft, people will need assurance that this information cannot be hijacked. Thankfully, Google has a possible in-house solution for that.
With the ability to add various bill payments to Google Wallet, you could then simply say "Okay, Google Now, pay Verizon bill," and Google Wallet would handle the rest. The big question... are we ready for that? Is the average user ready to hand over the payment of their bills to a service like Google Wallet? I think, yes. Why? Already an overwhelming amount of people pay their bills on line. According to Daily Finance, over 62% of Americans pay their bills online. Considering Google has gigantic plans for their payment system (including the ability to use your smartphone in place of your credit/debit card), there's no reason why your various bills could not be easily paid through their system.
You can already use an NFC-equipped phone to pay for goods at a MasterCard Pay Pass or Visa payWave station, so the infrastructure is in place. This means the ability to interact with Google Now to pay your bills is very close to being a reality. In fact, code samples for the process have been spotted (strings for bill entry such as: private Money amountDue_;.).
But the real key here is whether or not people will use it. Google Now is an incredible system, but is it one that people are willing to entrust with the payment of bills? My guess is that many users would be willing to start out with smaller, less crucial bills (such as streaming music services) to test the reliability of the system. Once they feel comfortable with it, they'll begin using it for more important payments.
You may be asking "Why not just set up recurring bill payments with your service or your bank?" Honestly, not everyone can afford to set up recurring bill payments. What happens when that bill payment hits and you don't have the cash in the bank to cover it? This happens to individuals and businesses. To that end, having the flexibility and the ease of getting bills paid with a simple voice command would be efficient and incredibly handy.
My guess is that this feature will land within the year. It may not be as feature-rich as Google ultimately plans, but the functionality should be available.
It's clear that Google has huge plans for expanding into as much of our technologically-enhanced lives as it possibly can. What do you think? Should Google take Google Now down this path? Is it something you would trust enough to use? Share your thoughts in the discussion thread below.
Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.