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Image: Google

Google announced a significant expansion of its Google Pay service on Wednesday, adding peer-to-peer payments to its contactless payment system as well as a partnership with banks to incorporate banking and checking services next year.

Why it matters: Contactless payments can be a gateway to other financial services, as Apple has shown by expanding from Apple Pay to Apple Card.

Details: Google unveiled a bunch of new features for Pay, including:

  • Splitting a bill and other peer-to-peer transactions.
  • The ability to track spending and do other personal finance tasks, including searching for transactions by keywords such as "pizza" or "last month."
  • A new kind of mobile-first bank account, called Plex, in partnership with banks, coming in 2021.

Between the lines: Bankrate industry analyst Ted Rossman called the move "an ambitious play for a wide spectrum of consumers' financial needs."

  • "Because the Google Pay app is available for Android and iOS phones, this is going to heat up the competition between Google and Apple," Rossman said in a statement.

Yes, but: Some critics warned that the move could further entrench Big Tech's market power and influence.

  • "It is a nightmarish example of the ways monopolies like Google can bully their way into new industries and it will open the door to all kinds of abuse," said Graham Steele, Senior Fellow at the American Economic Liberties Project.

Go deeper

Banks cash in as Wall Street blows out Main Street

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

America’s big banks capped off a winning year, led by soaring Wall Street-facing business lines.

Why it matters: Banks cashed in on the white-hot IPO market, record debt issuance, and sky-high trading volume — all of which played out as economic peril softened the consumer side of their businesses.

Mike Allen, author of AM
7 mins ago - World

Airbnb doubles number of Afghan refugees it will house to 40,000

Afghan refugees arriving at Dulles International Airport in Virginia in August 2021. Photo: Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky and co-founder Joe Gebbia said during a visit to Washington on Wednesday that they're offering temporary housing to 40,000 Afghan refugees worldwide, doubling a previous commitment.

The big picture: The housing typically lasts several weeks, and Airbnb and Airbnb.org provide subsidies to hosts.

Florida lawmaker introduces abortion bill modeled after Texas law

A view of the old Florida Capitol building, which sits in front of the current new Capitol building, in Tallahassee. Photo: Mark Wallheiser/Getty Images

A Florida lawmaker introduced a bill Wednesday modeled after Texas' new law prohibiting abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, or roughly six weeks — before many people know they are pregnant.

Why it matters: Similar bills introduced to the Florida legislature have failed, but that was before the Supreme Court declined to block Texas' law, which is the most restrictive abortion law to be enforced since the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision legalized abortion nationwide in 1973, according to AP.