It has been available in the US since June last year but Google Checkout has finally been launched in the UK.
Designed as a rival to Paypal but initially targeting businesses more than consumers, Checkout offers a range of transaction facilities including free order processing (until 2008), a centralised purchase hub with escrow facilities, insurance for payments (with fraud protection) and discounts off Google advertising.
By the end of last year the service had already grabbed nearly 10 per cent market share and added brands like Starbucks and Buy.com (though they still retain Paypal) but it faces a tough battle to usurp Paypal given the latter's shoe-in with online auction monolith eBay.
In addition, eBay is one of Google's largest advertisers (you'll have noticed the eBay links down the right column of most searches) and this has pushed the two apart with eBay recently signing an exclusive deal with Yahoo! for all ads on the auction site and Yahoo! returning the favour by making all its customers pay for Yahoo! services using Paypal. So a long hard fight is ahead.
Still we have another player in town making things interesting and Google doesn't tend to do many things badly...