Technology giant Google plans to set up an artificial intelligence-focused research lab in Bengaluru and a payments service for merchants to expand its presence in the country.
The company is also rolling out other services such as tokenised cards for digital payments, a job discovery platform and offline access to Google Assistant.
The California-based tech company announced the initiatives at its Google for India summit on Thursday.
AI research lab in Bengaluru
Google plans to set up a research hub in Bengaluru. The facility will focus on fundamental computer science and undertake research in artificial intelligence (AI).
Solutions for healthcare, agriculture and education sectors will be key focus areas at the lab.
More ways to pay through Google Pay
To capitalise on the increasing adoption of digital payments in India, Google said it would launch a new app called Google Pay for Business.
The app will enable small- and medium-sized merchants to facilitate digital payments without onboarding and verification processes, said a statement from Google.
Virtual credit and debit cards
The company will also roll out tokenised cards for debit and credit cardholders. The feature will allow users to process digital payments by using a digital token generated on the smartphone rather than an actual credit card number.
The tokenised modes of payment will be operational in the next few weeks on Visa cards for banks such as HDFC, Axis, Standard Chartered and Kotak, the statement said.
Google Pay’s support to tokenised cards will be rolled out for MasterCard and RuPay cards in coming months, the statement added.
Spot deployed on Google
Google said it will deploy open-source discovery platform Spot on Google Pay to help users find local businesses and jobs.
Using Spot, Google Pay users can access popular services like UrbanClap, food delivery platforms Eat.fit and Oven Story, bus ticketing platform RedBus and online travel platforms Goibibo and MakeMyTrip.
Job Spot, a platform for entry-level jobs, will help users find employment as well as training content. Job Spot will leverage machine learning to narrow down job prospects for users.
Food delivery platforms Swiggy and Zomato, hospitality platform Fabhotels, and retail platform Healthkart are some of the partners on the job discovery platform.
Extended support for Indian languages
Google is rolling out its Google Assitant in Marathi, Bengali, Tamil, Telugu, Gujarati, Kannada, Malayalam and Urdu, the statement said.
This comes amid the popularity of Hindi on the AI-powered virtual assistant. Manuel Bronstein, vice president, product management, Google, said Hindi has become the second-most used language on the platform.
Lens, Google’s app-based image recognition technology, will now be available in Tamil, Telugu and Marathi.
Discover, a rebranded news and content feed available on Android devices and the web, will now support languages such as Tamil, Telugu, Bengali, Gujarati, Marathi, Kannada and Malayalam. Support to more Indic languages such as Oriya, Urdu and Punjabi would be rolled out soon, the statement added.
Bolo, a speech-based app which helps teach reading skills to children, will soon support Marathi, Tamil, Telugu and Urdu.
Expansion of WiFi services
Google has partnered with state-run telecommunications company Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) to roll out public WiFi services in rural areas in the states of Gujarat, Bihar and Maharashtra.
Offline access to Google Assistant
Subscribers of telecom service providers Vodafone-Idea will be able to access the Google Assistant by calling a toll-free number, removing the need for internet access. Calling the number would give subscribers access to sports scores, traffic alerts and weather forecasts, among other things.