Google is reportedly developing a new Gmail feature that will allow users to receive and pay bills directly from their email inbox. According to Recode, the new project is called Pony Express, though that could be an internal code name; Google could go in a different direction with branding when Pony Express launches to consumers. (But we very much hope it sticks around.) The service — being pushed as "the future of paper mail" according to Recode's screenshots — is currently expected to roll out in the fourth quarter of 2015.
Who needs snail mail when there's Pony Express?
To use Pony Express, users will need to provide personal information including a full social security number, though this data and identify verification will be handled by a third party rather than Google itself. Once that's done, bills can be paid right within Gmail or Inbox, the company's other email app that puts a greater focus on organization and surfacing messages that are timely or important. Bills can be paid with a credit or debit card, based on the images, but you can also link Pony Express directly to a bank account. Google Wallet (which you'll soon see a lot more of) doesn't allow for this at present, so either Google will handle billing for the new service separately, or it will soon expand Wallet's capabilities to support bank account linking.
Aside from paying a full bill yourself, Pony Express will also allow Gmail users to forward bills onto other people (roommates, spouses, etc.) to split up the full balance. This process can be automated, according to Recode's report. Google has yet to make any official public mention of Pony Express. But compared with paying by snail mail or visiting a utility provider's website, this could make for a faster way of paying off those monthly expenses.
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