Google updated the online portion of its Google Wallet product this week to allow micropayments for digital content, with a short window for refunds.
Google Wallet's e-commerce portion used to be Google Checkout, which it launched in 2006. The search giant combined the two products last year, giving its smartphone-based Google Wallet an instant boost in registered users.
The new micropayment feature allows online merchants to sell digital content after giving a portion away for free. For example, an online encyclopedia can provide part of an article as a free sample, requiring the reader to pay 99 cents through Google Wallet for the remainder of the text. The buyer has the option to request an instant refund within 30 minutes of purchasing the digital content. The purchases would be funded by a credit or debit card linked to the Google Wallet account.
The microtransaction system is meant for content priced under a dollar. For more expensive items, Google urges companies to use its online system for game transactions.
Google's initial approach to Checkout was to tie its pricing to its online advertising system. Google severed that tie years ago in favor of a more conventional pricing structure, though in recent months Google has revisited its pricing options to better support sales of digital content. In some aspects, Google's moves echo Facebook's payments strategy.
Google's new micropayment option for Web content was leaked in a draft blog post that appeared on one of its news feeds, according to Cnet.