Google the latest big tech firm to secure an e-money license
Google is the latest big tech firm to secure an e-money license. The licence was issued in Lithuania.
The license does not make a fully commercial bank, but it is the first step in such direction. Google will be able to process payments, issue electronic money, and manage electronic money wallets.
Securing this license is a prime example of the risk big tech companies pose to established financial institutions like commercial banks. Their wealth of customer transactional data combined with tech expertise gives them a significant competitive advantage — even without full banking licenses.
Google Payment, a company owned by Alphabet Inc., obtained an e-money license in Lithuania, joining a growing number of fintech firms that have secured permission from the Baltic nation to offer financial services across the European Union.
The license will enable Google to process payments, issue e-money, and handle electronic money wallets. The license, granted by the Lithuanian central bank, gives it permission to operate throughout the EU.
“We are constantly working to support our customers in Europe. We have applied for a Payment License in Lithuania as part of these efforts, in addition to ongoing discussions relating to projects all around Europe,” said a Google spokesman in an emailed statement.
Currently, Google Pay allows customers to store card details in a digital wallet that is used to make purchases online or in an app. It also allows customers to use their mobile phones as payment devices in a store.
While an e-money license allows a company to store and transfer customer funds electronically, it does not allow it to offer full banking services, such as deposit accounts, loans or mortgages.
By issuing e-money licenses in three months, Lithuania is positioning itself as one of the fastest licensing jurisdictions in the EU. The Baltic nation has granted a total of 39 e-money licenses, second in the EU only to the U.K. with 128 licenses.
“The end of this year reflects our efforts and experience of the past few years in actively developing a fintech-conducive ecosystem in Lithuania,” said Marius Jurgilas, a board member at the Lithuanian central bank.
Large technology companies, such as Facebook Inc. and Amazon.com Inc., have been expanding into financial services. Google is one of the last to obtain a European e-money license: Facebook obtained its permit in Ireland in 2016, while Amazon Payments Europe has a license in Luxembourg.
Google is also joining a crowded field that also includes a bevy of young financial technology companies such as London-based TransferWise, which offers foreign exchange services and multi-currency accounts, and Wirex, a cryptocurrency payment platform.