You can view Google's revamped Gmail design through one of two lenses.

The layout change, which was launched Monday, uses tabs to separate social and promotional messages from notes from friends.

For bankers, the first and most potentially disintermediating scenario is that the search engine giant is trying to call attention to its offers. By placing them in a separate bucket along with other coupon laden emails, Google might be pushing its deals to Gmail users that are specifically looking for them.

There is certainly financial incentive to do so.

Last year, an American Express executive told me that advertisers pay Google 80 cents per click. If Google could show marketers that a click resulted in a direct sale, then — BINGO — the payment would jump to something like eight bucks.

Of course, the problem for Google is that 70 percent of its clicks result in an offline sale that can't be tracked.

But that's not how Google is pitching the Gmail feature launch. The company says its motive for the switch is purely to filter out annoying emails.

"We get a lot of different types of email: messages from friends, social notifications, deals and offers, confirmations and receipts, and more," the company said in a blog post. "All of these emails can compete for our attention and make it harder to focus on the things we need to get done. Sometimes it feels like our inboxes are controlling us, rather than the other way around."

Still, if the more sinister possibility pans out, Google stands to become an even bigger competitor to banks, which also rely on merchant-funded rewards.

The point of which, aside from the interchange revenue, is a closer relationship with their customers.

Google is already attempting to close that marketing loop with its digital Wallet — and potentially now with its first foray into wearable computing, Glass.

Glass explorers, like myself, were required to sign up for Wallet — and by extension be subjected to pitched offers that are already easy to redeem through Gmail.

Regardless of Google's next moves, it has to watch how it uses customer information.

"[They] have to be mindful of the unique nature of trust and privacy in consumer financial services or payments," says James Van Dyke, president and founder of Javelin Strategy & Research, "This hasn't necessarily come easy to them in the past."

No kidding.