Google Pay revamps with new focus on managing bank accounts and finances

From CNET: Google wants its software to become the center of people's financial lives. The search giant on Wednesday said it's overhauling its Google Pay service, which lets people pay for stuff using their phones, and extending the focus to online banking, shopping and loyalty programs.

It's partnering with a handful of banks and financial institutions to create "a new mobile-first bank account," called Plex, managed through the Google Pay app. Starting next year, institutions including Citi, BBVA and the Stanford Federal Credit Union will offer the Plex accounts, which come with no monthly fees or overdraft charges.

Google hopes to lure people to its software with the promise of a better user experience. It said its artificial intelligence will make it easier to search through purchases. For example, it will show you a charge from a taqueria if you search for something more vague like "Mexican restaurant." The app will also send spending reports and other insights to help with budgeting. While Google provides the technology, the money is handled by the bank, the company said.

The announcement underscores a major push into financial services by the biggest tech companies in the world, from Apple to Samsung. But the effort could be dogged by trust problems Silicon Valley has faced in recent years, as the public, lawmakers and media take a harder look at the tech industry's privacy and data collection practices.

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