Google offers a variety of services, from emails to navigation. By next year, the Mountain View tech giant could add banking to that list.
The company is reportedly planning to offer a checking account to users of its Google Pay app, The Wall Street Journal reported.
The checking account, which could launch as soon as next year, would be offered in partnership with Citigroup and a Stanford University credit union.
Google says that the accounts will be branded as coming from Citigroup or the credit union. Those firms will also handle financial regulations and backend systems for the accounts.
A Google spokesperson said that the initiative would “help more people do more stuff in a digital way online,” which could include loyalty card programs.
Of course, The WSJ points out that checking accounts are a goldmine of valuable data. (Google quickly claimed that it doesn’t and won’t sell user financial data to third parties.)
That move would make Google the latest tech firm to try and push into the financial world. Facebook this year announced the development of a cryptocurrency called Libra. And Apple, of course, recently launched its first credit card in partnership with Goldman Sachs.
The fierce rivalry between Apple and Google, in particular, could be one reason why the latter company is exploring a move into the financial sector.
Smartphone manufacturers, and particularly operating system makers like Apple and Google, try very hard to keep users locked into their ecosystems. The Apple Card, which requires an iPhone to apply for and use, is one example. Google’s checking account could be another.
Of course, people tend to be fairly cautious about their financial data. For a company like Google to begin offering financial services would require users to trust it with their data.
While Google is trying to push a privacy-respecting image in recent years, there’s no doubt that many users are wary of the company’s data harvesting practices and policies.
Because of that, an industry source familiar with partner deals like the Google bank account told CNBC that the company will likely have to incentivize users in some way. That could include discounted Google devices or services.