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Why didn’t Google Plex its’ muscles?

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A year ago, Google announced a compelling new offer“You’re lagging in technology. Your current vendors are years behind. Consumers think you’re irrelevant. We’re hip, we’re cool, we have all the latest technologies,

Now, they’ve dumped it.

Why?

Most reports point to internal trouble and strife. For example, Ars Technica cited a report in Business Insider that the Google Pay team was in “major upheaval after [a] botched app revamp:”

“Business Insider spoke with ex-employees and learned that dozens of employees and executives have left the Google Payments team in recent months, including at least seven leaders on the team with roles of director or vice president. One of the employees Business Insider spoke to said, ‘Plex was entirely [Vice President] Felix [Lin’s] and Caesar [Sengupta's] brainchild,’ and now both of those executives no longer work at Google. Progress on the bank account has already been ‘slower than expected,’ according to the report, and without its two leading architects, Plex may be delayed."

Is that it?

Not necessarily.

“Our work with our partners has made it extremely clear that there’s consumer demand for simple, seamless and secure digital payments for online and in-store transactions,” the Google spokesperson told CNBC in an email. “We’re updating our approach to focus primarily on delivering digital enablement for banks and other financial services providers rather than us serving as the provider of these services.”

Equally, Google’s cloud unit has also made financial services one of its main customer focus areas. In fact, imho, it’s the conflict between building the cloud business versus partnering with banks to offer a financial service that caused the shut-down.

As Ron Shevlin notesResistance from Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, and a handful of other large regional banks may have been enough to convince Google to back off.

If you are not one of the key partners of Plex, what are you? If you are being sold the idea to move all of your core ops to Google Cloud, what does that mean if Citi is the Plex partner and you are not?

It’s probably this internal trouble and strife that led to the Plex leaders Felix Lin and Caesar Sengupta leaving and, in doing so, they left a team in disarray. Add to this a pandemic, and pressures to deliver ideas that could no longer be delivered due  to the pandemic, and you had a nice melting pot of nothing.

Google will come back, but Google will never create a bank. They don’t want to, and the closing of Plex proves it. They want to work with banks, not compete with them. That's why they are focusing upon “delivering digital enablement for banks and other financial services providers rather than us serving as the provider of these services.” Interestingly, the same seems to be true of Amazon and Facebook and all the Big Tech.

Big Tech threat to banking? Look somewhere else.

Chris Skinner Author Avatar

Chris M Skinner

Chris Skinner is best known as an independent commentator on the financial markets through his blog, TheFinanser.com, as author of the bestselling book Digital Bank, and Chair of the European networking forum the Financial Services Club. He has been voted one of the most influential people in banking by The Financial Brand (as well as one of the best blogs), a FinTech Titan (Next Bank), one of the Fintech Leaders you need to follow (City AM, Deluxe and Jax Finance), as well as one of the Top 40 most influential people in financial technology by the Wall Street Journal's Financial News. To learn more click here...

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