Google is set to introduce a new payment card. If only it can get past privacy concerns.
Despite their recent collaboration on making their devices cooperate to track Covid-19, Apple and Google aren’t the best of friends. The rivalry dates back to when Google decided to build its own mobile operating system to compete with Apple’s iOS. Of course, the number of ways that Google has imitated its Silicon Valley neighbor, Apple, is too long to go through here.
A new report from TechCrunch that says Google is working on its own version of Apple Card. The Apple Card, if you remember, was touted by Goldman Sachs CEO David Soloman as the “most successful credit card launch ever.” Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, reinforced that idea during the company’s November 2019 earnings call.
It makes sense then, that Google would want to follow suit. Google already has a payment system built into its devices similar to Apple Pay on iPhones and iPads. And, last year, I wrote about how Google was reportedly working on offering checking accounts.
Now, however, the company appears to be working on a branded debit card (in contrast to Apple’s credit card), that would be associated with a checking account with one of its banking partners. Like Apple Card, Google’s version reportedly includes a physical card for transactions, contact-less payments via Google Pay, as well as unique card numbers for online transactions.
What isn’t clear is whether Google plans to include rewards. Apple offers a range of cash-back offers depending on where the card is used. Purchases directly from Apple earn 3 percent of what Apple calls “daily cash.” Those rewards are available on a daily basis, meaning that Apple Card users have access to their cashback much quicker than traditional credit card programs.
Of course, as I wrote before, the biggest question is exactly how Google plans to use transaction information from its customers. Generally speaking, every new service offered by Google tends to serve one purpose: creating additional data points the company can use to target users with advertisements.
That’s what made it the largest advertising platform in the world, and it’s the primary way Google generates money. It’s also what made the company one of the four most valuable companies in the world, worth roughly $880 billion at the time I’m writing this.
In reality, Google already dominates almost every space in which it competes, which means it already captures most of the information available to it from those products and services. In order to move the needle, a product like a debit card would provide access to an incredible amount of valuable information about exactly what its customers are spending their money on.
This leads us to an important question: Do we really want Google to have that kind of information? Privacy has never exactly been what Google is known for. Unlike Apple, which has made privacy one of its core brand selling points, Google has taken the approach that people are willing to trade their personal information for access to its services.
So far Google has been right. Millions of us use its products every single day, and as we do, we’re feeding its enormous advertising machine with each click, tap, swipe, and search. We try not to think about the fact that the company is collecting and gathering all of that activity and monetizing it. But they are. Time will tell if customers want the company to know everything single detail of their purchasing habits.