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After a very hectic but at the same time very exciting 10 odd day trip to Chennai and Hyderabad we are finally back home in Mumbai.

It was great to meet up with family and all the kids at home. Sometime one wonders how times are indeed changing.

Further to my previous post on Chennai, to add my thoughts on Hyderabad, I must say it was a dissapointment of sorts. The hype over the changes that Chandrababu Naidu has bought about in Cyberabad seem to be restricted to the specific parts of the city (Ameerpet, Jubille / Banjara Hills, Mahdapur, Hi-Tec city etc). The Hussain Sagar lake area has certainly got a make over with the Necklace road (and thus another place for people to hang / chill out other than Tank Bund) but the rest of the city, despite developments in the Real estate dont seem to have changed much from a quality of life perspective. Traffic continues to be very chaotic with little or no sense of driving etiquette, roads are very dusty and in general the place doesnt seem to ooze out the sense of excitement that I had expected to see. While I may be sounding overly critical of Hyderabad, I must confess that I do like this city and have spent 21 years there. The point I am trying to make is that the hype is a bit too much & people need to recaliberate their sense of reality when it comes to Hyderabad.

I am saying this because in comparison Chennai (a place that I had spent 4 years and also a place for which I have never made an attempt to hide my displeasure with) seems to be making all the right moves. The roads are pretty good, there are traffic signals all round, the streets neat & clean. Chennai does have its share of hype with the IT Corridor and the attendant Real estate boom that it is in the midst of, the problems with Auto drivers etc but then again, in comparison, Chennai comes out trumps for me.

Google Base, Payments, eBay & PayPal … some thoughts

The much awaited Payments service from Google is finally upon us. Quite mercifully so, because the hype & myth surrounding this has been on for quite a few months now.

So what does Google have to offer ? From this post on Google Blog :

Google Base acts as a repository for structured / unstructued information on products & services, a subset of which are for sale.

Similar to Google Video & Google Earth, the Google Account service (pl note that they do not use the term Google Payments) is being extended to Google Base.

Buyers get a Convenient & Secure way to pay on Google Base using their Credit cards.

For Sellers, this intBilegrates transaction process with Google base.

They are starting with a small number of sellers & extending over a period of time.

Bill Burnham has a very interesting post when he examines the Terms of Service for Buyers for the Google Payments service and discovers that the payments made by Buyers are actually intermediated through Google before it is released to sellers, as compared to eBay’s PayPal which passes the money through to the Seller’s account. This essentially points to an Escrow like payment service wherein Google would process the payment for the Seller only when the Seller had fulfilled his part of the deal. Bill also questions how Google will deal with the additional risk of Fraud & Chargebacks.

But, any comfort that I am glean from this is nixed by another conflicting statement in the T&Cs where in Google disclaims any reponsiblity on the quality of the product (which is fair) and also the ability of the seller to complete the sale (I dont know about you, but for me this means delivering the product / performing the serivce), which seems to be contradictory to the statement which says that “The Purchase Amount is not processed until the Seller (i) completes the purchase transaction, (ii) ships or otherwise provides the purchased goods to the Buyer, or (iii) performs the purchased service”.

It is interesting to note here that eBay is already using such an Escrow based payment solution in China & TaoBao’s AliPay payment solution in China is also Escrow based.

Further, the T&Cs also go on to say that the Payment using the service can ONLY be made against a specific purchase of a product or a service, ie., there HAS to an underlying transaction for a payment to be made, which means that this service cannot be used a Peer to Peer money transfer service which is one of the reasons for PayPal’s phenomenal growth.

While PayPal may not make any money out of such P2P transfers, this feature gives it a very strong network effect and is perhaps the single biggest reason why someone signs up for a PayPal account (and once signed out, uses it for all & sundry purposes online).

This post is incomplete … hope to add more to it as my thoughts get clearer.

Disclaimer : The thoughts expressed in this blog are purely my personal opinion and not that of my employer.