Google's next big thing is offering to be your personal bank

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  • Google is entering new territory: the world of banking.
  • The tech giant is creating checking accounts in partnership with Citigroup and the Stanford Federal Credit Union as part of a project codenamed Cache, which is expected to launch next year, The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday morning.
  • Unlike Apple’s credit card – which is intentionally branded first and foremost as an Apple product over its financial backer Goldman Sachs – the Google checking account is expected to carry Citigroup branding. “Our approach is going to be to partner deeply with banks and the financial system,” the Google executive Caesar Sengupta told The Journal.
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Forget about searching the web – Google’s next big thing is far less revolutionary: banking.

More specifically, Google is looking to create checking accounts in partnership with Citigroup, the parent company of Citibank, and the Stanford Federal Credit Union.

The project, codenamed Cache, is scheduled to launch to the public next year, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday morning. Unlike Apple’s credit card, which prominently featured Apple branding with only a small logo for its financial backer, Goldman Sachs, on the back of the physical card, the Google checking account will look and act like a standard Citibank checking account.

“Our approach is going to be to partner deeply with banks and the financial system,” the Google executive Caesar Sengupta told The Journal.

Apple CardHollis Johnson/Business InsiderThe Apple Card, from Apple and Goldman Sachs, carries prominent Apple branding.

No other details about the partnership between Google and Citigroup or how the checking account will work were available – a Google representative told Business Insider the following:

“We’re exploring how we can partner with banks and credit unions in the US to offer smart checking accounts through Google Pay, helping their customers benefit from useful insights and budgeting tools, while keeping their money in an FDIC or NCUA-insured account. Our lead partners today are Citi and Stanford Federal Credit Union, and we look forward to sharing more details in the coming months.”

Citigroup representatives confirmed the deal but declined to offer further details. Stanford Federal Credit Union did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

It’s unclear whether Google will charge fees for its checking accounts – Google has yet to decide, it told The Journal. Similar to Apple’s approach with the Apple Card integrated directly into the iPhone’s Wallet app and Apple Pay, Google plans for users to access its checking accounts through Google Pay. And the company is open to adding more banks in the future, according to The Journal.

Like Facebook’s attempted foray into financial services with its Calibra and Libra cryptocurrency projects, Google could face an uphill regulatory battle over its attempt to enter the financial market.

The company has faced increasing scrutiny from state and federal regulators over potential antitrust violations, with both the Department of Justice and a group of state attorneys general looking into the tech giant. And just this week, federal regulators opened an inquiry into Google over its partnership with the hospital system Ascension.

Google provides many of its main services – Search, Maps, Gmail, and Photos – free in exchange for user data. Unlike with those services, Google says it doesn’t use Google Pay data the same way.

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