For users around the world, there are different ways to pay for purchases on Google Play. The most widely supported method is a credit card, but that's far from a ubiquitous possession in many countries. That's why Google Play offers carrier billing, Paypal integration, gift cards, and various other ways to simplify paying for apps, games, and other digital goods. But the easiest way of all is cash, and this is how you could soon start topping up your Play balance.
Early last month, the Google Play balance support page added this curious notice:
Add cash from a convenience store
You can go to a convenience store and add cash to your Google Play balance. Check if this is available in your country.
Note: The convenience store may charge you additional fees for this transaction.
You can imagine that we rushed to check the linked page, but there was no mention of any convenience store there, so we shrugged and tabled the story under "someone updates support page way too early." Perhaps we missed it, perhaps it was added recently, but we just received a tip from reader Jonathan who told us he's now able to top up his Google Play balance at Oxxo stores in Mexico. So we double checked, and it's true, the per-country page for payment methods in Mexico does mention it:
Google Play balance and Google Play gift cards
- To add money to your Google Play balance, go to a convenience store. Learn how to add money to your Google Play Balance.
There's no list of participating stores, so the only one we know is Oxxo. This same line doesn't show up in any other country's listed methods, so it seems to be limited to Mexico for now. The hope though is that it would spread to more countries to lower the barrier of entry for purchases on the Play Store. Gift cards may be the closest equivalent, but we've all gone to a store to find it was out of cards completely or of the value we wanted, and there are still people who wouldn't know what to do with a gift card. Even with (reasonable) additional fees, cash seems like an easier concept to grasp.