Update -- Bloggers claim they discovered evidence this week that Google may be about to launch an online payment system, but the company says it's just revamping the interface for purchasing its fee-based Google Earth programs.
The screen shot, as it appears on the blog, says "Get started with Google Purchases" and displays a form for entering credit card information and a billing address. The form also says, "'Google' will appear by the charge on your credit card statement" and urges visitors to review terms of service.
A Google representative quickly deflated the rumors, however. It seems the Web page that the bloggers briefly glimpsed is just part of a new interface for licensing advanced versions of Google Earth.
"We are migrating the purchase process for Google Earth licenses to a payment interface that is more consistent with other Google products," a Google spokesman relayed to me in a statement. "Before completing the migration, we are testing the interface with existing Google Earth account holders who are upgrading or renewing Google Earth Pro licenses. This migration is one example of the work we are doing in payments."
That may explain why bloggers found a link to Google Earth terms of service on the mysterious new page, which is now shut off from public view. (I tried to reach the Google Payments page myself today by visiting http://www.google.com/purchases, but only got as far as a Google Accounts log-in page.)
Yet it's no secret that Google's developing a broader payment system to support a push into the e-commerce arena. The company acknowledged the project in June, fueling speculation it's part of Google's plan to deliver movies, TV shows and other video content over the Web though its Google Video Viewer program.