Google sets its sights on PayPal with Checkout

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Google Checkout
The monolithic search engine/adveritising/kitchen sink company has launched yet another new service: Google Checkout. Billing itself as "a new service that makes online shopping faster, more convenient and more secure," Checkout lets you store your payment details in one centralized location, and then use that account to buy from supporting merchants.

Certainly having to remember only one login is a great idea, and the fewer places that have your credit card information, well, the lower the risk that it'll be compromised. Still, Google has some hurdles to overcome here, not the least of which is acceptance by the merchants. While they have lined up an impressive slate of participating stores, notably absent from the list is Internet shopping Mecca (and Google rival) Amazon. And, of course, there's stiff competition from eBay's established PayPal standard. Will the Google name be able to lure customers from PayPal, or will the two be able to co-exist peacefully? Google's GMail quickly became the email account to have, but other attempts by the company (such as Google Talk) have yet to achieve resounding success.

And of course, there is the key question one should always ask when it comes to Google: how does this play into their core market, i.e. advertising? While the company is taking a small cut from each transaction, as PayPal and credit cards do, one wonders if they'll farm the information to provide you with targeted ads, such as they do with their GMail service. Looking over the Google Checkout Privacy Policy does yield an opt-out "If you don’t want us to use any information shared between [Google Payment Corporation] GPC and Google to promote Google products and services to you," but I couldn't find any other specific mention of targeting ads. It should be noted that your entire transaction history will be stored as well, which would no doubt provide Google with an extremely profitable store of data to analyze for trends and the like.

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