The unwillingness of tech giants to disrupt banking shows how complex and unattractive that business has become. Google’s foray into financial services illustrates this. The search leviathan is roping in Citigroup and Stanford Federal Credit Union, a local California lender. Google plans to offer current accounts from 2020. At first glance, this looks like a flirtation with white label distribution rather than the end of days for Wall Street.

Google’s tussle with privacy and competition watchdogs may be regarded as a misfortune. It would look like carelessness to take on a second regulatory burden by becoming a bank. It is data rather than a banking licence that Google covets...

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