It’s obvious that Silicon Valley tech giants are sniffing around the banking sector as one of their next sources of revenue, and perhaps just as important, one of their next sources of big data. Facebook is trying to bring its Libra digital currency online, and has just launched Facebook Pay; Apple launched its Apple credit card (Apple Card) earlier this year, and now Google wants to get even deeper into the financial technology game (it already has Google Pay), by offering users checking accounts. But if you’re afraid to give Google your most intimate financial details, don’t worry, because it just wants to “help more people do more stuff in a digital way online.”
That quote comes directly from Google executive, Caesar Sengupta, who recently spoke with The Wall Street Journal about Google’s forthcoming checking account service. Currently dubbed “Cache,” the service will offer users the ability to setup checking accounts via the Google Pay app. The checking accounts themselves will be run by Citigroup and Stanford University’s credit union, Stanford FCU, which has about $3 billion in assets.
— Stanford FCU (@StanfordFCU) November 13, 2019
In terms of what advantages Google’s checking accounts will offer over other ones being used, that’s not totally clear at this point. Sengupta did tell the Journal that the checking accounts may offer loyalty card programs, and some outlets have noted that Google’s service may waive common fees (such as those levied against clients who don’t keep enough funds in their accounts), but nothing seems to be verified yet. The biggest appeal of Google’s checking accounts, presumably, will be ease of use—if somebody’s already frequently using Google Pay, why not set up a Google checking account to cut out the bank and streamline the process?
It seems that this is the pitch Google hopes to bring to one of the biggest potential markets for checking account users: young people who have grown up doing just about everything on their phones. As Ars Technica points out, “Any of those [young people] who have Android phones could be an easy built-in market” for the checking accounts. Ars Technica notes that the other major market with potential interest in Google’s checking account services would be “the un- and underbanked, who are not currently served well by traditional financial institutions.”
According to Futurism, which was the first outlet to put this fintech news on our radar, Google already has 100 million Google Pay users anyway, so it’s not hard to imagine persuading Google Pay users to at least open up Google checking accounts. The company could presumably offer freebies or the aforementioned loyalty cards to help entice people who are already comfortable working with money in Google’s ecosystem.
It seems fair to say that most people who’ve heard about Google’s latest potential endeavor are quite wary when it comes to the thought of offering up their personal financial information to the search giant, however. Matters probably aren’t helped by the fact that Sengupta told the Journal that “Our approach is going to be to partner deeply with banks and the financial system.”
What do you think about this Google banking news? Do you think the tech giant’s continued push into the financial sector will help to make that area of the economy more transparent, or do you want to keep your income, and spending habits, private for as long as possible? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!
Feature image: Google