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Google announced Google Checkout today, and all the world’s a buzz about it. But like TechCrunch, I’m not sure yet why end users would use it.

Now, I see a huge reason why merchants will use it. Merchants who use AdWords (which is pretty much everybody) will get the little shopping cart “I accept Google Checkout” icon next to their ad. And that is huge advantage. With Google’s very stark search results pages, a little icon does do a lot to attract attention. And of course, the more clicks you get on your ad, the higher your ad tends to float…

Forget the cheaper transaction fees ($0.20 per + 2%) or the credit against those transaction fees that AdWords users get. That doesn’t really amount to much unless a lot of customers actually use Google Checkout. The real merchant benefit is this little icon which will make their ad much more noticeable on the page.

But again, why would customers use it?  There have been a lot of online wallets before (like Yahoo) and none of them have taken off. Paypal is not a simple online wallet and, I think, has real benefit to end users (direct person-to-person money transfer). Even then, most customers’ interaction with Paypal is just a place to enter their credit card so someone else can receive money. In the case of Google Checkout, the end user can’t do simply that. They have to use their Google info to pay.

 So far, I only see two reasons that end users will use it:

  1. They are intrigued by that little icon next to all the merchants that they see, and they decide to sign up for it.
  2. They want to use it just because it’s Google.

Will it work?  I don’t know. The public uses a lot of Microsoft stuff just because it’s Microsoft, but then again, they own our OS and browser.

Anyway, I can see a lot of merchants integrating with it to get the little icon on their ads, but not getting a lot of transactions through it, unless Google provides more end user benefits.

Update: John Tokash has written a great review. He thinks Google Checkout’s shielding of your email address has a ton of value, but note how it will only forward the email to your gmail account. Tricky…