Google moves to offer checking accounts; groups oppose its $2.1B Fitbit takeover



Google plans to add checking accounts from Citigroup and a credit union to its Google Pay digital wallet in 2020, the tech company said Wednesday.

Tht news came after several groups called Tuesdayfor the U.S. government to block Google’s $2.1 billion acquisition of fitness-gadget maker Fitbit, citing antitrust and privacy concerns.

Google confirmed the checking account story after a report by The Wall Street Journal.

Big tech companies have been pushing into other arenas such as finance and health care to gain more access to consumer data. Google launched Google Wallet in 2011, now called Google Pay, which lets users store credit and debit card information and use them to make mobile and digital payments.

Google’s health care ambitions now involve patient data

Now the Mountain View, California-based tech giant wants to add checking accounts.

“We’re exploring how we can partner with banks and credit unions in the U.S. to offer smart checking accounts through Google Pay,” the company said in a statement.

The move would let users use Google Pay but keep money in accounts that meet the federal regulatory standards for banks. While Google is working with Citigroup and Stanford Credit Union now, it hopes to add more partners in the future.

In the U.S., more than 2,000 banks already offer virtual card transactions via Google Pay, Google said.

The push comes at a time when regulators are looking into privacy practices by firms including Google and Facebook so the deals are likely to be scrutinized.

Citigroup did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Fitbit deal

Nine privacy, social justice and consumer groups are calling for the U.S. government to block Google’s $2.1 billion acquisition of fitness-gadget maker Fitbit, citing antitrust and privacy concerns.

Google buys Fitbit for $2.1B, jumping back into hotly contested wearables market

They say in a Wednesday letter to the Federal Trade Commission that the deal would consolidate Google’s dominance over internet services like search, advertising and smartphone operating systems.

They also worry it’ll add to Google’s store of consumer data. Health information is of particular concern. Google has hired health care executives, hinting at a health-data business to come.

Politicians and regulators have been scrutinizing Google and other Silicon Valley companies for how they use customer data and leverage their size to thwart competitors.

Google didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

 





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