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Google takes on Groupon with voucher programme

Search giant tests coupon service

Google is working with small businesses on a trial of a prepaid offer or voucher programme, a business similar to that of Groupon, a growing company which the internet giant tried to acquire last year.

Google offered little other details of the test. "This initiative is part of an ongoing effort at Google to make new products, such as the recent Offer Ads beta, that connect businesses with customers in new ways," according to an email statement. "We do not have more details to share at this time, but will keep you posted."

Groupon works with local merchants to offer deep discounts products, but the good deals don't kick in until a minimum number of Groupon members commit to them.

Acquiring Groupon would have turned over to Google lots of relationships with local merchants in the US as well as other countries and pull it into the coupon distribution business where it could potentially leverage its advertising technology.

Google was reportedly ready to pay as much as US$6 billion for Groupon, making it one of Google's most pricey acquisitions, before Groupon's board rejected the deal. Groupon, which was founded in November 2008, is a private company that had an estimated revenue of $500 million in 2010.

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