Google today said it has partnered with Andhra Pradesh State FiberNet Ltd (APSFNL) to facilitate Internet access to more than 12,000 villages, benefitting around 10 million people.

The tech giant also rebranded its ‘Tez’ as ‘Google Pay’ as part of its efforts to take the digital payments app to more online and retail merchants across the country.

“Building for India has helped Google build for everyone all around the world... Our partnership with RailTel is an example where millions of people are accessing Internet from hundreds of railway stations in India," Google General Manager (Next Billion Users initiative and Payments) Caesar Sengupta said.

Google, through ‘Google Station’, provides Wi-Fi services in public locations in partnership with various entities. “After India, we have taken Google Station to other countries like Indonesia, Nigeria, Thailand and Mexico," Sengupta said. Previously,

Google had partnered RailTel to offer Wi-Fi access across 400 railway stations in India.

“We have partnered APSFNL. We expect to start rolling out services by the end of the year with cities like Vijayawada and Visakhapatnam, to connect gram panchayats, primary health care centres and other public places," he said.

Talking about payments, Sengupta said Tez — which was built for the Indian market — has seen strong traction with 22 million people using the platform every month. Already, 750 million transactions have been made with $30 billion in annual run rate of transaction value, he added.

“Many governments (globally) have taken note and have asked us to collaborate. Keeping that in mind, we are compiling our payments under Google Pay. Everything with Tez remains the same," he noted.

Sengupta said the company is also adding more merchants -- online and offline -- onto its platform. Google is working with big retailers and payments technology companies like Pine Labs to help merchants accept digital payments, he added.

Rajan Anandan, Vice President of Google (South East Asia and India), said data consumption in India is now at par with developed markets at 8 GB a month per subscriber. Various industry reports estimate that India has over 450 million total Internet users. There has been strong adoption of Internet among women and it is estimated that 45% of Internet users will be women in the next three years, he said.

“It is incredibly exciting and inspiring time to be in India. For a very long time, India’s Internet was defined by 3 Ms — Metro, Male and Millennials...The behaviour of the new India is towards — Voice, Video and Vernacular," he said.

Anandan said as new users gain digital maturity and confidence to transact online, there is a huge opportunity waiting to be unlocked. The tech giant is also collaborating with lenders like Federal Bank, HDFC Bank and others to offer pre-approved loans on the Google Pay platform, a move it believes will accelerate efforts of financial inclusion.

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