Google Will Not Launch Mobile-First Bank Account Service ‘Plex’

A Google executive who championed the Plex bank account project left the company in April.
Adam Rowe

Google Pay has abandoned its plans for a mobile-friendly finanical service called “Plex,” which would have given bank accounts to its users.

The coronavirus pandemic was one key reason the plan stalled, reports say.

The potential service had a pre-launch waitlist of 400,000 would-be customers, a sign that the concept has plenty of potential. Google Pay remains a big player in the steadily growing mobile payments market.

Farewell to Plex

The Plex service would have offered a bank account along with an easy to use digital dashboard to help users track and manage their money, complete with a list of where and how funds were spent. It was initially set to debut in 2020.

A Google executive who championed the Plex project, Caesar Sengupta, left Google in April, seemingly paving the way for a change in approach. The Wall Street Journal, which broke the news that Plex was scrapped, has this to say:

“Bill Ready, a former PayPal Holdings Inc. executive who joined Google a little over a year earlier to head up its e-commerce operations, took over and set a new course, people familiar with the matter said. Mr. Ready was concerned that Plex could make other banks think that Google was out to compete with them since it played a lead role in building the product, one of the people said.”

This came after a full year of the coronavirus pandemic, which had already pushed the project back from its initial schedule.

Mobile Payments: So Hot Right Now

Mobile-first bank accounts make sense in an increasingly online world. For small businesses trying to evolve, being able to accept mobile payments is essential, and the money reflects that.

The global mobile payment technologies market is projected to grow an impressive amount for yet another year in 2021. The industry totalled $51.96 billion in value last year, according to one report, and is projected to reach $60.42 billion in 2021, a compound annual growth rate of 16.3%..

Google remains a big player right alongside PayPal, MasterCard, and Bharti Airtel, as well as tech giant Apple.

How Small Businesses Can Adapt

That said, mobile payments remains a tricky business to break into, even for a massive company: By one study's account, just 6% of iPhone users tend to pay in-store with Apple Pay. Operating bank accounts or currency is even more tough for tech companies, if Facebook's failed cryptocurrency is any indicator.

From the typical business owner's perspective, though, what really matters are which software services will accept the majority of payment options without taking too large of a cut for themselves.

We've ranked the best POS software offerings and their total costs, which should help any small business manager get started, and we've pointed out which services accept Google Pay's contactless payments as well. Square POS is one of the most flexible POS services when it comes to mobile payments — Revel and Clover are also dependable in that area, but Square is one of our top POS picks overall, so we'd recommend it to the mobile payment-focused retailer.

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Adam is a writer at Tech.co and has worked as a tech writer, blogger and copy editor for more than a decade. He's also a Forbes Contributor on the publishing industry, for which he was named a Digital Book World 2018 award finalist. His work has appeared in publications including Popular Mechanics and IDG Connect, and he has an art history book on 1970s sci-fi coming out from Abrams Books in 2022. In the meantime, he's hunting own the latest news on VPNs, POS systems, and the future of tech.

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