Yesterday, we saw Google rolling out its Google Play Android app vending machine in Tokyo, Japan. Unlike the conventional vending machines, Google Play’s machine can only be accessed through NFC-enabled smartphones. For the moment, that might mean it only works in highly mobile and developed countries like Japan.
But that got me thinking. If these vending machines could accept cash or coins as payment, this concept could work very well in fast-developing nations like Indonesia where paying for stuff online is still not widely accepted and people don’t always trust e-payment systems. Solid cash is still the main way people pay for things.
It’s common to hear game and app developers in Southeast Asia complain about the broken e-payment infrastructure. Google isn’t lacking for users given that Android is already the top smartphone OS in Indonesia. But all those users can’t pay, unfortunately, because the Google Play store mainly accepts credit card payments, and many users in developing countries don’t have credit cards.
So if Google could build Android app store vending machines that accept printed notes and/or coins and allow folks to download apps through a connecting cable, it could really help create a trustworthy channel for users to pay and gain access to games and apps. That would be great for the mobile games industry in Southeast Asia.
If folks were willing to buy good content through pre-paid phone credits a decade ago, then I think it is only fair to assume that people are willing to pay for good games and content on their Android devices. The only problem is that without an alternative to the Google Play store’s restrictive payment system, they can’t.