Google’s grand plan to launch Google Bank Accounts is dead. As part of its big relaunch this past year, the Google Pay division promised to launch “Plex,” a digital banking service from Google. After a disastrous year for Google Pay that included a botched app revamp and an employee exodus from the division, though, a report from the Wall Street Journal now says Google’s bank account plans are dead.
Plex would have allowed the Pay app to act as an interface for banks or credit unions, allowing users to access their savings and checking accounts.
Google’s development of the project came as a number of internet firms, from Amazon and PayPal to Square and Robinhood, have been riding a trend of providing financial tools for shopping, borrowing or investing online.
Plex was officially announced almost two years ago and heavily promoted on the Google Pay website and app, complete with a waitlist users could sign up for. The service would have been a “mobile first” banking app with physical cards, less fees, and lots of spending visualizations. I want to say something like, “I can’t imagine anyone wanting a Google Bank Account” given the privacy concerns and how unstable new Google products can be, but the Wall Street Journal reports that there were 400,000 people on the waitlist.
Google was partnering with Citigroup, Stanford Federal Credit Union, and a few other banks for the service, and not all of them were apparently in on the plan to cancel Plex. The Wall Street Journal report closes with a rather sad paragraph:
As late as this week, several banks were under the impression that the project would still move forward. On Monday, BM Technologies Inc. said its Plex accounts would arrive in late 2021 or 2022. “Google and BMTX are excited about this opportunity and are committed to this partnership,” the banking platform said in an email at the time.
The reason for the cancellation seems to all be about the Google Pay upheaval we learned about earlier in the year. In August, Business Insider reported that “dozens of employees and executives have left” the Google Payments team in recent months, including “at least seven leaders on the team with roles of director or vice president.”