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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.

Ina Fried, author of Login
Updated 3 hours ago - Technology

Exclusive: GLAAD finds top social media sites "categorically unsafe"

The leading social media sites — Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok and YouTube — are all "categorically unsafe" for LGBTQ people, according to a new study from GLAAD, the results of which were revealed Sunday on "Axios on HBO."

The big picture: GLAAD had planned to give each of the sites a grade as part of its inaugural social media index, but opted not to give individual grades this year after determining all the leading sites would receive a failing grade.

Federal agency issues emergency declaration over fuel pipeline cyberattack

Photo: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Biden administration said it's "working with" fuel pipeline operator Colonial Pipeline to try and restart operations after a ransomware attack took it offline.

Why it matters: Friday night's cyberattack is "the most significant, successful attack on energy infrastructure" known to have occurred in the U.S., notes energy researcher Amy Myers Jaffe, per Politico. A regional emergency