Would you pay with a “Google Card?” TechCrunch has obtained imagery that shows Google is developing its own physical and virtual debit cards. The Google card and associated checking account will allow users to buy things with a card, mobile phone or online. It connects to a Google app with new features that let users easily monitor purchases, check their balance or lock their account. The card will be co-branded with different bank partners, including CITI and Stanford Federal Credit Union.
By building a smart debit card, Google has the opportunity to unlock new streams of revenue and data. It could potentially charge interchange fees on purchases made with the card or other checking account fees, and then split them with its banking partners.
The long-term implications are even greater. While once the industry joke was that every app eventually becomes a messaging app, more recently it’s been that every tech company eventually becomes a financial services company
Google’s vast access to data could allow it to more accurately manage risk than traditional financial institutions. Its deep connection to consumers via apps, ads, search and the Android operating system gives it ample ways to promote and integrate financial services.
If a customer suspects foul play because they lost their card, they can lock it and optionally order a replacement while still being able to pay with their phone or online, thanks to Google’s virtual card number system that’s different than the one on their physical card. If instead they suspect their virtual card number was stolen by a hacker, they can quickly reset it. And if they believe someone has gained unauthorized access to their account, they can lock it entirely to block all types of payments and transfers.
The settings reveal options for notifications and privacy controls to “decide what information you share,” though we don’t have imagery of what’s contained in those menus. It’s unclear how much power Google will give customers to limit the company or merchant’s data access. Google’s decisions there could impact how transaction data might fuel its other businesses.