SINGAPORE (Nov 25): If you want to open a bank account or, for now specifically, a checking account in California, you will soon be able to just Google it. Last week, the search giant announced that it was formally tiptoeing into banking — albeit piggybacking Citigroup and Stanford University’s Credit Union — to “offer smart checking accounts through Google Pay”, a digital wallet platform and online payment system, from early next year.

The partnership, codenamed Cache, between one of the oldest banks in America and a tech firm that has US$120 billion ($163.5 billion) in net cash and whose US$900 billion market capitalisation is equivalent to that of the top three US banks combined, looks like a marriage made in heaven. Citi is a distant fourth domestically among the Big Four American banks despite its huge global footprint. Until now, the big gaping hole in its US footprint has been its lack of a physical presence in California, particularly, the Silicon Valley, home of most global tech giants.

Google’s announcement that it was getting into payments came just days after social media behemoth Facebook unveiled its own payment system that will be built into its flagship Facebook as well as Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp. Facebook Pay will not only allow users to send money to each other, but also enable a user who sees an ad on Instagram to buy the product right there by just clicking on a “Buy” button.

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