Google extends e-commerce platform to help people in India find nearby food during lockdown

Google Pay is about to get really useful in India's biggest cities

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Google's India operation has launched a new feature that enables users to find and transact with essential stores during the novel coronavirus lockdown.

According to the company's Indian blog, the new feature is called "Nearby Spot" and will help users locate nearby stores that remain open during the country's lockdown.

The new feature is especially useful in India, where the vast majority of groceries are traditional mum and pop businesses who have not invested in websites. According to Euromonitor, India has 12.8m traditional grocery outlets, compared with only 7,162 modern ones.

"With the lockdown and social distancing norms in place, digital payments have become more important than ever and Google Pay is an additional surface to provide key information regarding COVID-19," the company said.

"We think this information will help users to contact the appropriate business, pay digitally and aid social distancing efforts."

Google's Spot Platform, which was launched last year, enables businesses to create a digital storefront where customers can browse and pay for goods using Google Pay, without needing to have their own website.

Nearby Spot adds local geolocation to Spot. It's already available in Bengaluru and will be launched in Hyderabad, Chennai, Mumbai, Pune, and Delhi soon. At which point it will cover more than 40 million people. For perspective, that's more people than Canada or Poland. And therefore quite a market for Google Pay!

In addition to this feature, Google also added a COVID-19 information page on the Google Pay app which provides official guidance from India's Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. Users can also donate to various charities which are procuring protective equipment for medical workers and supporting those who are reliant on their daily wage to make ends meet.

India's prime minister, Narendra Modi, today extended the country's three-week lockdown of its 1.3bn people until May 3. People in India are required to stay inside, with only essential services such as hospitals, police and fire departments and grocery stores remaining open. The prime minister said stricter measure would be taken in the next weeks to curb the spread of the virus.

The decision comes as the country's total tally of cases reached 10,363, an increase of 1,211 overnight. There have been 339 deaths and 1,035 recoveries, according to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. ®

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