Google is ending plans to manage users’ bank accounts through its mobile payments app, the company.
Last year, the search giant announced changes to its Google Pay service, allowing people to pay for things using their phones. The changes shifted the service’s focus to online banking, and Google partnered with a handful of banks and financial institutions, including Citi and Stanford Federal Credit Union, to create a “mobile-first” bank account called Plex at no monthly fee or overdraft fee.
Google 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 withdrawing from this project.
“Our work with our partners has made it clear that there is consumer demand for simple, seamless and secure digital payments for online and in-store transactions,” a Google spokesperson said in a statement. “We are updating our approach to focus primarily on providing digital enablement for banks and other financial service providers, rather than serving as a provider of these services.”
The change in plans comes months after Google veteran and chief executive Caesar Sengupta, who led the effort, left the company. In his place, former Chief Operating Officer of PayPal, Google Commerce President Bill Ready stepped down to lead the project. The Wall Street Journal previously reported that Google was abandoning the initiative.
The financial services sector has wooed many of the world’s biggest tech companies, from Apple to Samsung. In 2019, Apple announced its own branded credit card called the 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 withdrawal from banking underscores the difficulty that Silicon Valley has broken into the market. Efforts by other tech giants, such as the push from Facebook to cryptocurrencies, have also stalled.