Gmail to let users attach cash to emails

google-ICAmong the flurry of announcements at the hours-long Google IO conference yesterday, there was one that threatened to step on Paypal’s turf – sending cash will soon be as simple as sending an email.

Provided you have a Google account set up for Google Wallet with your bank, at least in the US it is now possible to send cash for free, and all you have to do is click on a $ sign under attachments. You can link up credit or debit cards as well, which Google promises will charge low fees – a flat fee of 2.9 percent. Receiving money is free.

Users will be limited to sending $10,000 per day, or $50,000 for each five day period, which will be more than enough for most casual users. Google says sending money with your Google Wallet balance is always free and “usually instant”.

For now Google is rolling out the feature to all US Gmail users who are over 18, and earlier access will be available if friends have the feature and are actively using it.

Google also says it has purchase protection which “covers you 100 percent against eligible unauthorised payments”.

The service, if it picks up, could threaten to bite at Paypal’s ankles. It doesn’t take much searching online to find complaints about the latter, and casual users are likely to be particularly interested. For small trading, sending a protected payment via email is going to be quick and easy.

Still, there will be those turned off by such services. Having an account phished or simply compromising your own password potentially puts your cash at risk.