Cache Google’s new banking project aiming to dominate big tech

Google plans to launch a new service called next year which will see it start to offer current accounts.

Google is the latest giant to move into the banking space with plans to give its users the option of setting up a current account. First reported by the Wall Street Journal, the project, codenamed Cache, will launch next year with the accounts run by Citigroup and other financial institutions.

In a statement, Google said: “We believe our partners’ regulatory and financial know-how is a great complement to our experience in building helpful tools and technology for our users.” Unlike other its rivals such as Apple or Facebook, Google said it will be somewhat hands off in terms of the banking infrastructure.

Explaining what Google gets out of this plan, it said it will be able to plug in its analytical tools into the current account, as well as potentially offering advantages to consumers and banks, such as loyalty programmes.

This will also give Google an incredible boost to its highly lucrative advertising arm of the business by being able to tie in purchases made through its current accounts with advertisers.

‘A giant Darwinian experiment’

Google’s vice-president of product management, Caesar Sengupta, also said the company is still considering whether service charge fees will be included with the current accounts.

Citigroup released its own statement confirming the project, adding “as we do, privacy and transparency are, and will continue to be, critical priorities”. As for what features and functions will tie into Google Pay through Cache, a spokesperson for Citigroup said it is yet to be determined. However, it could be similar to what it’s doing in China with WeChat where payments are processed through the messaging app.

The news comes after Google got the green light to be a payments institution from the Central Bank of Ireland under the PSD2 directive in January, gaining it the ability to issue and acquire payments in the EU.

Speaking with the BBC, Bain & Co partner, Gerard du Toit, said this move was part of a growing, uneasy partnership between big tech and banks, the latter realising their need to partner for fear of being left behind.

“I sometimes describe this as a giant Darwinian experiment of different couplings of the banks and the big techs,” he said. “There will be some mutations that succeed and others that fail.”


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