While nothing on the Internet is ever 100% safe, sending money through Gmail represents perhaps the safest money transfer method online. Gmail's send money feature is integrated with Google Wallet, a service that acts as a conduit between your bank and the recipient's bank. When you use Google Wallet to make an online purchase or send money, the merchant or money recipient never handles your sensitive information. That information makes it no farther than Google (NASDAQ: GOOGL), a company endowed with perhaps the most robust security infrastructure on the Internet.
How Sending Money Through Gmail Works
Sending money through Gmail is nearly as simple as sending an email. In fact, you initiate the transaction by opening a new email to a friend. At the bottom of the email screen is a dollar sign icon you click to bring up the transaction information screen. You are prompted to set up Google Wallet, if you have not already, the first time you send money via Gmail. You simply enter your debit card, credit card or bank account information, which Google Wallet stores on an encrypted server for later uses. At that point, you enter the amount you want to send, and Google debits the money from your card or account and transmits it to the recipient instantly.
You can also use your Google Wallet account to make purchases online and in select brick-and-mortar stores. Many people take advantage of this service because it prevents them from having to trust a merchant with their credit or debit card information.
Google is the company where the most promising minds in technology want to work. As a result, its security infrastructure was erected by the best and brightest. The company launched in 1998, and not once during its nearly two-decade history has it suffered a major security breach. For users of Google Wallet, which is the mechanism you use to send money via Gmail, the company offers several safeguards.
Password Protection and Remote Disabling
If you use Google Wallet or another online payment system on your mobile device, the biggest security threat comes not from a remote hacker but from an unauthorized person accessing your device. Google Wallet offers a couple of features to protect you if your mobile device is lost or stolen and ends up in the hands of an unscrupulous person.
You are able, and it is recommended, to set up a personal identification number (PIN) to access Google Wallet. In addition, locking your entire phone with a PIN, preferably a different one, is never a bad idea. This gives a thief two password layers he must get through to access Google Wallet.
Google Wallet has a feature that lets you disable it remotely. If a device on which you have Google Wallet is stolen, no worries. Simply access the app from another device, or even a friend's device, and disable it.
Google uses the latest encryption methods to ensure your payment information is never visible in the app or on the server where it is stored. High-level security also protects the server itself, so the chance of someone breaching it and accessing even your encrypted information, which he cannot decipher anyway, is slim.
Peace of Mind
Hackers have never been successful with Google, and given the company's commitment to security, it is doubtful they ever will be successful. Despite recent, high-profile large-scale hacks at companies such as Sony Pictures and the affair site Ashley Madison, Gmail users, including those who send money using the service, should feel confident their sensitive information is being kept safe.
In addition to holding its own email servers to the highest security standards, Google expects the same of third-party mobile apps that allow users to access Gmail. For example, the email apps on older mobile operating systems, such as iOS 6 or below for iPhone, and Windows Phone 8.1 or below, do not meet Google's security standards. As a result, Google blocks these apps from accessing users' Gmail accounts. Users can change the settings on their devices to allow access, but at this point they are actively assuming the risk from which Google is trying to protect them.