Google will soon offer checking accounts to consumers, becoming the latest Silicon Valley heavyweight to push into finance. The project, code-named Cache, is expected to launch next year with accounts run by Citigroup Inc. and a credit union at Stanford University, a tiny lender in Google’s backyard. The Wall Street Journal reports:
Big tech companies see financial services as a way to get closer to users and glean valuable data. Apple Inc. introduced a credit card this summer. Amazon.com Inc. has talked to banks about offering checking accounts. Facebook Inc. is working on a digital currency it hopes will upend global payments…
Google is setting its sights fairly low. Checking accounts are a commoditized product, and people don’t switch very often. But they contain a treasure trove of information, including how much money people make, where they shop and what bills they pay.
The company will have to convince a public that is increasingly wary of how tech companies are using personal data that it can be trusted with people’s finances. Federal regulators are examining whether the user information Google gets from its search engine, home speakers, email service and other apps gives the company an unfair advantage over competitors, the Journal has reported.
Mr. Sengupta said Google wanted to bring value to consumers, banks and merchants, with services that could include loyalty programs, but it wouldn’t sell checking-account users’ financial data. The company said it doesn’t use Google Pay data for advertising purposes and doesn’t share that data with advertisers.
Fifty-eight percent of people recently surveyed by consulting firm McKinsey & Co. said they would trust financial products from Google. That was better than Apple and Facebook but worse than Amazon.
“If we can help more people do more stuff in a digital way online, it’s good for the internet and good for us,” Mr. Sengupta said.