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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.

2 hours ago - Technology

Twitter to label COVID-19 vaccine misinformation, implement strike policy

Photo: Illustration by Igor Golovniov/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Twitter announced Monday that it will label tweets with potentially misleading information about COVID-19 vaccines, and introduce a strike system that can lead to permanent account suspension.

The big picture: Tech companies are taking an increasingly aggressive stance against users who attempt to share misleading information about COVID-19 vaccines on their platforms.

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Health: Trump, Melania received COVID vaccine at White House in January — CDC director warns "now is not the time" to lift COVID restrictions.
  2. Vaccine: J&J CEO "absolutely" confident in vaccine distribution goals Most states aren't prioritizing prisons for COVID vaccines — Vaccine hesitancy is shrinking.
  3. Economy: Apple says all U.S. stores open for the first time since start of pandemic — What's really going on with the labor market.
  4. Sports: Poll weighs impact of athlete vaccination.
  5. World: Italy tightens restrictions as experts warn of growing prevalence of variants — PA announces new COVID restrictions as cases surge.
  6. Local: Colorado sets timeline for return to normalcy.