Google has stopped working on its Plex service, which aimed to let you do your banking through the Google Pay app. The service was supposed to let users sign up for checking or savings accounts offered by a variety of traditional banks that the user would then manage through the app. According to a report by the Wall Street Journal, Google cancelled the project due to a series of missed deadlines and because an executive who pushed for the project left the company.
Plex wasn’t meant to put Google in direct competition with banks, according to reports that came out before the company revealed the program and information from its official announcement. Instead, Google planned to partner with a variety of financial institutions that would have provided accounts without monthly or overdraft fees and without minimum balances. Like some other online banks, Google’s app would have let users set things like savings targets and automatic transfers. Some of the banks Google planned to partner with included Citi and SEFCU.
In an email on Friday, Google said that it still believes there’s demand from consumers for simpler ways to pay for things while shopping both online and in-person but that it will now be focusing on “delivering digital enablement for banks and other financial services providers rather than us serving as the provider of these services.” It’s possible, then, that we’ll see some of Plex’s features show up in Google Pay at some point — or we may just see Google continue work on its redesigned Google Pay app.
While there are still other options for people who want online banks with decent apps, it’s unfortunate to see that Google’s cancelled this project. Not only would it have provided more traditional banks incentive to step up their mobile app game, but a big feature like this getting axed before its release doesn’t help with Google’s reputation for not sticking with products it launches. Still, it’s better that Google put a halt to it now if it wasn’t going to be committed to it — as a former Google Wallet debit cardholder, I can say from personal experience that having to deal with changing how you pay for things is way more of a pain than, say, having to find a new way to read RSS.