In November 2020, Google announced the creation of Google Plex, a feature that would allow customers to open a bank account with 11 partner banks (including Citibank) directly from the Google Pay application. On October 1st 2021, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) announced that Google is abandoning plans to offer the Google Plex checking account.

This renunciation marks a retreat from an effort to make the tech giant a bigger name in finance and illustrates the difficulties GAFAs have in finding a place for themselves in financial services.

The Google Plex account could have made a dent in the banking market. Nearly one in five US consumers said they would have opened a Google Plex account when it launched. Among Apple Pay and Google Pay users, 33% said they would open an account (strategycorps.com). Interest in a number of Google Plex features garnered strong interest among Gen Z and Millennials, including “Get gas” and “Get food” buttons that would help users find the nearest gas station or restaurant and automatically pay for the purchases.

According to the WSJ: “A Google spokeswoman said the company would now focus primarily on delivering digital enablement for banks and other financial services providers rather than us serving as the provider of these services.”

Plex was initially positioned as an easy mobile-first way to open bank accounts, with Google providing the technology and app design and banks and credit providers backing the finances. Plex service aimed to let customers do their banking through the Google Pay app. The service was supposed to let users sign up for checking or savings accounts offered by a variety of traditional banks that the user would then manage through the app.

The WSJ reported that Bill Ready, who runs Google’s eCommerce operations, “was concerned that Plex could make other banks think that Google was out to compete with them since it played a lead role in building the product”. Resistance from Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, and a handful of other large regional banks may have been enough to convince Google to back off. But neither Ready nor the Wall Street Journal mentioned another factor that may have influenced Google’s decision to kill the Plex account. Ars Technica cited a report in Business Insides that the Google Pay team was in “major upheaval after botched app revamp.


Publié le 12 octobre 2021