Google scraps plans to manage people's bank accounts

The retreat comes months after the departure of a key executive leading the effort.

Richard Nieva Former senior reporter
Richard Nieva was a senior reporter for CNET News, focusing on Google and Yahoo. He previously worked for PandoDaily and Fortune Magazine, and his writing has appeared in The New York Times, on CNNMoney.com and on CJR.org.
Richard Nieva
2 min read

Google is retreating from online banking.

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Google is scrapping plans to manage the bank accounts of users through its mobile payments app, the company said Friday.

Last year, the search giant announced an overhaul of its Google Pay service, which lets people pay for things using their phones. The changes extended the focus of the service to online banking and saw Google partner with a handful of banks and financial institutions, including Citi and the Stanford Federal Credit Union, to create a "mobile-first" bank account called Plex, with no monthly fees or overdraft charges. 

Google had promised a better user experience for mobile banking, relying on the company's software chops and artificial intelligence to modernize the technology. Now the company is backing away from the project.

"Our work with our partners has made it extremely clear that there's consumer demand for simple, seamless and secure digital payments for online and in-store transactions," a Google spokesperson said in a statement. "We're updating our approach to focus primarily on delivering digital enablement for banks and other financial services providers rather than us serving as the provider of these services." 

The shift in plans comes months after Caesar Sengupta, a Google veteran and key executive leading the effort, departed the company. In his place Google President of Commerce Bill Ready, former chief operating officer of PayPal, stepped in to head the project. The Wall Street Journal earlier reported that Google was abandoning the initiative.

The financial services sector has enticed many of the world's largest tech companies, from Apple to Samsung. In 2019, Apple announced its own branded credit card, called Apple Card, launched in partnership with Goldman Sachs. The service offers daily cash back, a titanium physical card and no annual or late fees. 

But Google's retreat from banking underscores the difficulty Silicon Valley has had breaking into the market. Efforts from other tech giants, like a push from Facebook into cryptocurrency, have stalled as well.