July 29, 2021

Revamped Google Pay targets PayPal, Venmo, and Apple Pay

Google on Wednesday unveiled a major relaunch of its Google Pay app for Android and iOS, with a slew of features that amount to a competitive shot at PayPal-owned Venmo, Square Cash App, and Apple Pay.

This is Google’s revamped entry into the battle royale brewing in mobile payment apps.

The new look of the app is based around three tabs: Explore, which at the moment offers cash-back rewards from partner brands including Gap, Levi’s, Adidas, and Crocs (watch out: Pay-Pal owned Honey, Lolli, and other shopping rewards extensions); Pay, which allows for sending peer-to-peer payments (Google’s shot at Venmo, Cash App, and Zelle), creation of groups for easy dividing-up of restaurant checks, and contactless tap-to-pay at businesses (think Apple Pay); and Insights, which makes transactions easily searchable if you link your credit cards to the app. Bankrate analyst Ted Rossman sees this as one of the biggest appeals: “One of the reasons Gmail is so successful is because of its excellent searchability,” he wrote in a note. “Adding Google’s search expertise to users’ finances should resonate with consumers who want to better understand their money.”

And then there are the bank accounts.

In 2021, Google Pay will add Plex accounts, a mobile-first, millennial-friendly bank account with no monthly fees, overdraft charges, or minimum balance requirements. Eleven partner banks are offering the accounts, including Citi and BBVA.

While many might see the news as Google’s attempt to become a bank, Google insists it is just the conduit for the accounts, which will be run by the partner banks.

“We have no plans to become a bank,” Google director of product management Josh Woodward said on Yahoo Finance Live on Thursday. “Google brings our UX, our technology expertise, and we match that up with the bank’s financial and regulatory expertise. And the bank account, you can activate it from directly within Google Pay. But your money is with the bank.”

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