Very interesting read.
But I think the 'minimal' visual feel of google pay and the negative space really works in favour. If it has 30 million users and continue to do so that I am sure it is working. It is just a new way of looking at an app and is/will influence customer behaviour soon.
I agree about the search button not being there in a first fold but one does get the search button after clicking 'new'.
I think it is a simple clean app and needs to be devoid of unnecessary additions...
Lovely Redesign but!