Bengaluru: Google is adding more services to its payments app, Google Pay, in India as it tries to attract its next billion users. The US search giant on Wednesday introduced an option to purchase “digital gold" on its platform. It is also looking at launching other wealth management products, including mutual funds, said two people familiar with the matter, requesting anonymity.

However, when contacted, a Google Pay spokesperson declined to comment on the company’s plans.

“Google’s biggest focus this year is to further establish its payments platform Google Pay," said the first person cited above. “The company is adding more use cases to the platform and is tinkering with the idea of adding mutual funds, insurance, etc."

Paytm was one of the first companies to launch “digital gold", which was followed by PhonePe and a few others.

On Wednesday, Google Pay partnered with point-of-sale companies Pine Labs and Innoviti Payment Solutions Pvt. Ltd to strengthen its offline presence. Through this, Google Pay aims to establish a network of 200,000 stores across 3,500 towns and cities in India over the next few months. The rollout will begin with grocery chains Reliance Fresh and Vishal Mega Mart.

“We will be in the offline space in a big way," said Ambarish Kenghe, director of product management, Google Pay India. “For now, a majority of them are large-format retail stores, but we will also look at neighbourhood kirana stores."

Since its launch in August 2017, Google Pay slowly picked up pace in India to compete with market leaders Paytm and PhonePe.

Google Pay claims to have 45 million monthly active users currently, up three times from 14 million as of March 2018.

The company also claims to have an annualized run rate of $81 billion, based on the transaction value over the last few weeks.

Google Pay started out with peer-to-peer transfers and bill payments.

It claims that over 2,000 online merchants, including the likes of Swiggy and BookMyShow, uses its services. But as the battle of digital payments has slowly been moving to the physical retail space, the company has sharpened its focus on expanding its offline merchant base.

Mint reported on Wednesday that Amazon Pay is also entering the offline payments space through the launch of its scan-and-pay QR codes in retail chain Shoppers Stop and grocery chain More.

Paytm, which was the first player to install a QR code at an offline store, claimed in November that over 6 million of its 9.5 million offline merchant base accept Paytm UPI and that they form 80% of all offline merchant transactions conducted on Unified Payments Interface (UPI).

PhonePe claims to have its merchant acceptance network across 100 cities with plans to increase this number to 500 by the end of 2019.

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