Google Pay Unveils Overhaul, Opens Waitlist for Banking Account
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Google Pay Unveils Overhaul, Opens Waitlist for Banking Account

Users of Google Pay for Android or iOS may have noticed some major changes to the app this week. A new update turns the focus to personal finance as well as peer to peer payments, while also teasing future endeavors.

First, users can now link bank accounts and credit cards (via Plaid) to Google Pay in order to see their spending — regardless of whether they’re using Google Pay to transact or not. When users add accounts, they’ll be able to view their money through two main lenses: “You have” and “You spent.” Tapping the former allows users to see their overall cash on hand along with a graph showing how that balance has changed. Meanwhile, the “You spent” tab offers various spending insights and a look at recent transactions. Users can also search for specific transactions by typing the name of the business or using other phrases such as “over $1,000,” “last month, “Mexican restaurant,” or other terms to filter results.

As for the peer to peer payment element, Google says it’s hoping to offer “a safer way to pay.” Some of these measures include alerting users when they may be sending payment to strangers, offering greater control over privacy settings, and using advanced security measures. Additionally, users can select whether they’d like Google Pay to personalize their experience by looking at transaction history. Then, the app will update users in three months to see if they’d like to keep their settings or change them.

While many of these features have been done before, Google suggests it’s trying to recontextualize payments and make them about relationships. As Google’s lead for Payments and Next Billion Users Caesar Sengupta explained to TechCrunch, “You’ll notice that everything in the product is built around your relationships. It’s not about long lists of transactions or weird numbers. All your engagements pivot around people, groups, and businesses.” To that point, in the Pay tab of the app, users can tap on different businesses to see their transaction data in a format akin to a chat thread.

With as large of a change as this Google Pay update is, there’s still more to come. Along with the redesign, Google also opened the waitlist for their Plex banking accounts. The company is partnering with 11 banks and credit unions to offer mobile-first banking accounts that are free of monthly fees, overdraft charges, minimum balance requirements, and more. Plex accounts are slated to debut in 2021, with Citi and Stanford Federal Credit Union (SFCU) being the first institutions to accept applications.

This Google Pay update could certainly help the application get more attention — especially from iOS users who may not have seen a use for the service previously. Sadly, though, observers will have to wait a bit longer for more details on the Plex accounts that have been rumored for months. Still, it remains to be seen how many customers will be willing to trust Google with even more of their financial data by embracing Google Pay. Perhaps we’ll have a better idea in the coming months as Plex moves forward and the new Google Pay has time to reach users.

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