This morning a small and rather innocuous pop-up appeared on my screen, I clicked on it immediately because: 1, it looked interesting and 2, I didn't have the foresight to screenshot it for this article.
It was a pop-up explaining what a little "£" sign was doing next to my "attach" button and my "link to" button in the Gmail compose email window. It transpires that you can now send cash as an attachment in an email. For me this is a ridiculously shrewd play from Google for a number of reasons.
Firstly email is still the most common way we (I mean people 25+ years old) electronically communicate with those outside our immediate social sphere. Obviously adding a function layer onto a pre-existing communications platform rather than creating a whole new platform for a single function is an easier way to achieve high levels of adoption - certainly in this case anyway.
Secondly, Gmail is a hugely popular service and Google are now leveraging it in the ways they probably always knew they could. With millions upon millions of businesses and individuals using Gmail every day all they have to do is reach out with a tiny pop-up and people will know about what their new service. Some might even be sad enough to blog about it...
Thirdly the Gmail demographic is sure to be older and consequently more cash rich than other communications platforms (think snapchat here) so they're effortlessly tapping into this (relatively) wealthy and utterly vast customer segment in one of the few ways (if not the only way) that any organisation can - through their own massively popular email service.
And finally, trust is the biggest reason "Cash as an Attachment" is such a massive play. We already send sensitive information all over the place via email - payment details, invoices, travel tickets - so why not send cash? Snapchat has security breaches, Facebook has privacy issues, bank's consumer facing tech is generally terrible and stand-alone apps are new and unfamiliar. Email - in particular Gmail - has none of these issues.
Even if this is only an effort to familiarise people with Google Wallet, it’s a very cool one and should have Apple, PayPal, Snapchat, Square and about a million other payment service providers all take serious notice.