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Would you transfer money over Gmail?

Google has introduced a new function to Gmail accounts in the UK: the ability to attach money to emails. That leads to the obvious question – is it safe to send money over email?

Let's start with how it works. To use the new ‘attach’ function, you'll need to sign up to Google Wallet and connect it to your bank account, credit or debit card. You can then use the 'attach money' icon in Gmail to send funds to anyone via email, although the other person will also have to sign up to Google Wallet to claim them. 

However, users will be understandably cautious. Incidents like the August 2014 cyber-attack, in which the usernames and passwords of over 500 million email accounts were stolen, prove that email isn’t impenetrable.

The first step to protecting your funds is to use a unique password for every account. This helps to stop individual breaches affecting your entire online activity. Change your passwords several times a year, and make sure they're longer than eight figures, and include letters, numbers and symbols. You can find more advice about improving your online security at Action Fraud and Get Safe Online.

When using Gmail, there's also Google's own security measures. All money is passed through their account – Google pays for your transaction and then charges your account, so your bank details are never revealed. 

Other safe ways to transfer money online work in the same way, like e-wallets PayPal and Neteller. These let you send money using just a username and password, similarly hiding your details. However you choose to transfer money, you should always make sure the provider is FCA-authorised. This ensures your funds are held in their own secure accounts.

So, does this mean the likes of Gmail could replace more traditional money transfer services? For now, the answer is probably no. Google's offering is currently limited to domestic transfers, so you couldn't pay for your overseas holiday or wedding with it, for example. Foreign exchange brokers will still be your best option for send money abroad safely, quickly and cost-effectively. You can compare them using our intelligent tool, which displays their security credentials and tells you how other customers rate their services.

Comparison tool

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