Google Base starts taking cash

Google Base starts taking cash

Search firm quietly unveils payment service

Google has added a feature to Google Base that allows merchants to handle payments through a user's Google account. The feature effectively turns Google into an e-commerce platform for retail operators.

The move could put the organisation into direct competition with eBay and the Craigslist online classifieds network by offering merchants the option of hosting product descriptions and using Google Base to handle the transactions.

"For buyers, this feature will provide a convenient and secure way to purchase Google Base items by credit card. For sellers, this feature integrates transaction processing with Google Base item management," two Google managers said in a posting on the Google Base Blog.

The Google account is currently used to handle transactions for the search firm's video store, and allows users to pay for professional versions of Google Earth. It accepts credit card payments from all major providers.

Google Base is currently in beta and allows users to store and host all kinds of information, ranging from recipes, cars and jobs to classified ads.

Hosting the actual data allows Google to gather additional information to that which the search engine's spiders are able to collect. A website with recipes, for example, could rate the dish's spiciness or indicate that it is vegetarian.

Through the Google Base webpage users will be allowed to refine their search using these attributes, for instance searching only for 'mild' or 'spicy' dishes.

The introduction of Google Base last year caused speculation about the service's potential to compete with auction and e-commerce websites such as eBay.

Google's inclusion of a purchase option offers further proof that the search giant is closing in on the auction giant's territory.