Google Pay launching digital bank accounts next year

The Google Pay logo.

  • Google is partnering with BBVA to offer Americans a digital bank account  using Google Pay.
  • It’ll be a co-branded, fully insured bank launching in 2021.
  • Google will provide the interface.

Google’s foray into digital banking has started in earnest, if not quite how you might have expected.

BBVA has announced that it’s working with Google to offer digital bank accounts in the US through Google Pay sometime in 2021. Google will handle the interface, including “financial insights,� while BBVA will provide the infrastructure. The bank will be co-branded, BBVA said.

It’s not certain how this bank would work, although it would have FDIC insurance. Existing all-digital banks often let you manage virtually everything from an app on your phone, but have their limitations if you need to withdraw cash, handle checks, or get support.

Read more: The best investing and finance apps for Android

The BBVA deal is somewhat surprising when initial reports had Google partnering with Citigroup for US accounts. It’s not certain if Citi is still involved. This remains a big step for Google, however, and will test whether or not Google Pay can serve as a financial hub, not just a way to buy groceries or speed up your online shopping.

Google is reportedly exploring the prospect of offering a debit card through Pay, although it would be tied to an existing bank account rather than one with official branding.

Much like Apple Card and Samsung’s debit card, this is as much about protecting a core business as it is venturing into new territory. While it could be very convenient to access your bank account directly from Google Pay, you’ll also have to keep using Google Pay on your phone (and thus Android) if you want the full experience. That could keep you from switching to an iPhone or a competing digital bank, if just for convenience’s sake.

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