Alphabet Inc. subsidiary Google has hired former PayPal Senior Vice President and Chief Product Architect Arnold Goldberg to lead its payments division, according to a report today from Bloomberg. Just three months after abandoning a strategy to let Google Pay users create checking and savings accounts via its proposed Plex service, the search and advertising giant will wade more deeply into other financial services—including cryptocurrency debit cards.
“Crypto is something we pay a lot of attention to,” Google President of Commerce Bill Ready told Bloomberg. “As user demand and merchant demand evolves, we’ll evolve with it.” Google Pay, the company's digital wallet for online or contactless mobile purchases, has made some tentative strides into the crypto space already.
In March 2020, in news likely overshadowed by impending COVID lockdowns, Google Pay added integration for the Coinbase Card, a Visa debit card that enables Bitcoin payments. Google Pay users could include the card details on their Android phones and start buying things in BTC. (Coinbase Card also integrates with Apple Pay.)
In August 2021, months after integrating with Apple Pay, BitPay Mastercards came to Google Pay as well. And in October 2021, Bakkt announced that holders of its debit card could use it in tandem with Google Pay to buy goods and services with Bitcoin. The service essentially provided a way for people to exchange their BTC for USD at the point of sale. But Google lags behind Apple Pay thanks, in part, to Apple's dominance of the U.S. smartphone market and its focus on app development.
Which is where Goldberg might be able to help. In late 2020, while Goldberg was still with the company, PayPal announced that customers would be able to buy cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum on its platform. The payment services company steadily increased its offerings throughout 2021, with the launch of crypto payments for merchants and integrations with its Venmo app. While Ready told Bloomberg that Google isn't ready for crypto transactions just yet, it's clear that it's a part of the strategy moving forward.