Email attachments have been limited to files for as long as they have existed. This changes soon with Google's announcement that it will integrate the company's own Google Wallet payment service right into Gmail. The idea here is to attach money using Google Wallet to an email to make payments right away from the interface.
Update: The option to send and receive money with Gmail is still available. It is now available to users from the US and UK, and requires Google Pay, Google's current payment system.
Why would Google introduce something like that to Gmail? To push Google Wallet to a larger audience of course. That's the same strategy that worked when it started to plaster all of its properties with Google Chrome ads and Google+ links.
What about the user? While it is certainly comfortable to send money from within an email, it is not such a big step forward as many seem to think it is.
First of all, it is necessary that both parties have a Google Wallet account. The recipient does not need to have one right away, but to claim the money, an account is needed.
Then, adding a send money option to an email program can certainly be problematic. Think of all those phishing and scam emails that ask you for a small payment so that you can receive millions or even billions in return. We all know that those are scam, but there still seem to be some that never heard of Nigerian scams before, or any other form of scam for that matter. While Nigerians scammers can't use it right now, due to the US-only limitations, it may open the door for scams even further than before.
Gmail and Google Wallet Facts
I'm not saying it is all bad as I can see its practical use as well. Say you are planning a weekend trip with a couple of friends. To collect the money, you may use the send money feature which can be useful if you are all using Gmail anyway to communicate with each other. If someone uses another provider, things get complicated quickly though.
If you are using Gmail's web interface, are from the US and have a Google Wallet account, it may open up new possibilities for you, especially if you do not use Google Wallet on your phone.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.