Google said to prep billing payment service for Gmail

It could yield valuable e-commerce activity data for Google

An image of Google's supposed "Pony Express" billing service for Gmail, published by Recode.

An image of Google's supposed "Pony Express" billing service for Gmail, published by Recode.

Google reportedly is creating a service to let people pay their bills from their Gmail accounts.

The service, currently dubbed Pony Express, would ask users to provide personal information, including credit card and Social Security numbers, to a third-party company that would verify their identity, according to a Re/code report on Tuesday.

Google also would work with vendors that distribute bills on behalf of service providers like insurance companies, telecom carriers and utilities, according to the article, which was based on a document seen by Re/code that describes the service.

It's not clear whether Pony Express is the actual name of the service or if Google will change the name once it launches. It's planned to launch by the end of the year, according to the report.

A Google spokeswoman declined to comment.

A handful of vendors such as Intuit, Invoicera and BillGrid already offer e-billing payment and invoicing software. Still, a Google service, especially one within Gmail, could be useful and convenient to consumers if the company is able to simplify the online payment process.

A benefit for Google could be access to valuable data about people's e-commerce activities, although there would be privacy issues to sort out. Google already indexes people's Gmail messages for advertising purposes.

Plus, the service could give Google an entry point into other areas of payment services. The company has already launched a car insurance shopping service for California residents, which it plans to expand to other states.

It's unclear who Google's partners would be for the service, but screen shots published by Re/Code show Cascadia Financial, a financial planning company, and food delivery service GreatFoods.

Pony Express would also work in Google's new Inbox app for email, the report said. It's unclear whether the service would use Google's Wallet payment system or have its own platform.

Zach Miners covers social networking, search and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow Zach on Twitter at @zachminers. Zach's e-mail address is zach_miners@idg.com

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