Google giveth, Google taketh away



On 20 November this year Google will close(retire) its Google Checkout service. This will mean that merchants who have used the service as a checkout option will have to find an alternative. The exact effects on you will depend on what you sell:

  • If you sell digital goods you can switch to Google Wallet for digital goods which provides an API to sell goods within apps.

  • If you sell your goods or App through Google Play then there is nothing to worry about.

  • If you sell physical goods or services such as web hosting or other cloud services then you have to switch to another service.

From the earliest days of its conception Google and its founders have prided themselves on their “Do not be evil!” attitude and principle. This and their open and easy to understand APIs, a plethora of free products & their support, and many generous contributions to the hackerdom has made them a darling with many people but I fear they are now getting a tad bit unpredictable. Google Checkout joins Buzz, Google Apps standard edition, Google Browser sync( Firefox), Google Code search, Google Desktop, Google Health,Google Wave and Google Reader in the graveyard and zombies ( iGoogle and Google Latitude.)

I was greatly saddened to hear that there are going to discontinue the Google Checkout service which had provided me with refuge ever since PayPal banned us as part of the ZIDERA legislation. I always rejoiced whenever I saw the Google Checkout logo amongst the list of available payment methods since they accept Zimbabwean issued debit/credit cards with no fuss. Now how am going to effect my chargebacks against those unscrupulous businesses?

Now we are left in limbo. Zimbabweans are, for reasons I still struggle to fathom, not allowed to join PayPal or Payza (formerly Alertpay). If you are a Zimbabwean merchant I will recommend Skrill (aka Moneybookers) and 2Checkout. The former offers affordable service at rates that are comparable to Google Checkout’s service plus they can transfer your payout to a Zimbabwean bank via international money transfers. 2Checkout will require an initial application fee of about $14 ( currently $10.99 due to a promotion) plus 5.5% per transaction. This is a bit expensive but they will enable you to accept both credit/debit cards and PayPal in addition to the option to wire the money into your local bank account.

If you are a buyer you may have to resort to entering your debit card information directly into each site you are buying from. You can also use 2Checkout and Skrill whenever they are available. 2Checkout does not require you to sign in and both accept Zimbabwean cards. Since 95% of Ebay users only accept PayPal this will preclude you from most deals but you can still use for your purchases until PayPal is available to Zimbabweans – if ever.

Back to Google: it is understandable that they are trying to consolidate their offerings and discontinue the unprofitable ones but the somewhat erratic ways in which they are shutting some of their services makes me concerned. Given the smaller market share that +Google has I cannot help but wonder, If one of these days, I am going to get an email in my inbox telling me that the social network is being discontinued. Or perhaps it will be to tell me that I now have to pay up for my Gmail.

As the biblical Job said: The Lord he giveth and he taketh away. Google is the king of the internet and Google, it gives and takes away, and that they do,seemingly on a whim.

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