Google is working on a physical debit card, a report says.


Charlie Wagner/CNET

Google is developing physical and digital debit cards, which would be tied to an app for payments, managing purchases and checking balances, according to a report Friday by TechCrunch. The product would compete with the Apple Card, the iPhone maker’s rival financial service released last year. 

Google’s physical card would have a chip on it and be co-branded by various banks and credit unions, including Citigroup and Stanford Federal Credit Union, the report said. The goal is to make the card the foundation of the search giant’s Google Pay mobile payments service. 

The news comes after Google said in November it’s working with Citigroup and the SFCU to offer consumers smart checking accounts, which could give the search giant valuable information about how consumers spend their money. 

Apple’s credit card project, first unveiled in August, is backed by Mastercard and Goldman Sachs. It’s Designed for iPhone users, has no fees, and offers daily cashback rewards and works with Apple Pay.

The moves by Google and Apple underscore a major push into financial services by the biggest tech companies in the world. But the effort could be dogged by Silicon Valley’s past scandals, as the public, lawmakers and media take a harder look at the tech industry’s privacy and data collection practices. 

As Google and Apple work on credit and banking services, Facebook’s own financial project, a cryptocurrency service called Libra, has been met with intense regulatory scrutiny. On Thursday, the social network unveiled a version of the service that’s similar to payments products like PayPal — scaled back from its initial vision of reshaping the global financial system.

Google on Friday did not comment on plans to create a physical credit card, but confirmed it’s working with Citigroup and the Stanford Federal Credit Union. Google said it will share more details in “coming months.”

“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,” a spokeswoman said. 

Citigroup and the Stanford Federal Credit Union didn’t return requests for comment on the debit card project.

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