Google’s ambitious plan to bring Google Bank Accounts to market is on hold. As part of its big relaunch last year, the Google Pay division promised to introduce “Plex,” a digital banking service from Google, according to a recent Wall Street Journal article.
However, following an unsuccessful year for Google Pay in which it had a failed app upgrade and staff departures, reports suggest that Google’s bank account plans are now kaput.
Google Pay initially launched a waitlist for Pogoplug in 2016, and the service was officially announced just over two years ago and heavily advertised on the Google Pay website and app, including a waitlist that users could sign up for.
The service would have been a “mobile-first” banking software with physical cards, lower costs and lots of spending visualization tools.
Given the privacy issues and how unsteady new Google products can be, I’d want to say something along the lines of: “I can’t fathom anyone wanting a Google Bank Account.” But according to reports from The Wall Street Journal , there were 400,000 people on the list.
Google was working with Citigroup, Stanford Federal Credit Union, and a few other financial institutions on the service, yet none of them were apparently aware of the plan to cancel Plex. The Wall Street Journal’s story concludes with a gloomy passage:
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.
According to sources, the decision to cancel was all due to the recent Google Pay upheaval.
According to Business Insider in August, “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 a director or vice president.
Google Pay received a horrible overhaul in March when Google shut down the functioning, mature service that had been around since the inception of Google Wallet and replaced it with a new codebase that was originally created in India.
Google Pay (which was billed as the new, worldwide Google Pay) based on WhatsApp and utilized your phone number as your identity.
Because a SIM card is needed to authenticate identity, the Google Pay website functionality had to be disabled, numerous accounts were no longer supported, and people had to rebuild their contact lists in order to send money.
This all took place in March when the old Google Pay app was shut down in the United States. In April, just one month later, Google’s VP of Payments, Caesar Sengupta, left the firm.
Sengupta blew up the Google payment system and fled before the transition was complete—he abandoned his mission without ever achieving the new Google Pay’s functionality to match that of the old app.
Today, despite numerous updates, Google Pay is still worse than its predecessor. Some nations’ citizens are using the new Google Pay app; others continue to use the old version.
Following Sengupta’s departure, “dozens” of employees departed, according to the BI report. Google Pay wasn’t developing at the rate we wanted it to, one ex-worker claims in the BI article. Employees were getting frustrated with Google Pay because it wasn’t growing as fast as we wanted it to.
“Plex was completely [Vice President] Felix [Lin] and Caesar [Sengupta’s] brainchild,” one employee said, adding that both executives have left Google and that Plex’s most ardent supporters have departed, thus there is no surprise that the project is dead.
Google Pay is in an odd situation right now, and it’s unclear what the service’s future holds.
The new Google Pay was supposed to include Plex as a major feature. However, with Plex dead and the architects of this entire overhaul no longer at Google, the division has become a chaotic mess. Any reference to Plex was deleted from the Google Pay website on Friday.
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. 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.
We strongly believe that this is the best way for Google to help consumers gain better access to financial services and to help the financial services ecosystem connect more deeply with their customers in a digital environment