Is It an Apple Co-Branded Card or a Goldman Sachs Co-Branded Card?

Reports of a joint credit card from Apple and Goldman Sachs hit the press recently. The Wall Street Journal reported that:

"The planned card would carry the Apple Pay brand and could launch early next year, replacing Apple's partnership with Barclays. The Apple-Goldman card could help the companies combat weaknesses in their core businesses. As new iPhone sales growth slows, Apple is focusing on services such as mobile payments, streaming-music subscriptions, and App Store sales, and Apple Pay adoption has been slower than executives hoped. Goldman, meanwhile, is pushing into consumer banking to compensate for a slump in securities-trading. It launched a retail banking business called Marcus in 2016 for online savings accounts and personal loans, and executives have been exploring adding credit cards and wealth-management tools."

A Google search on "apple goldman sachs credit card" turns up more than 1.1 million results (on my laptop, at least), with articles from WSJ, Forbes, NY Times and MarketWatch. That's pretty good coverage when you consider that the announcement says the two firms "could" launch a joint credit card, and that it "could launch early next year," which is at least eight or nine months away. The only other "planned" joint credit card I can imagine getting this kind of press is a Facebook/Cambridge Analytica card (I know that makes no sense--just keep reading).

The announcement also caused a slight giggle to see that the card "would carry the Apple Pay brand." What "brand" is that? According to pymnts.com, as of December 2017, just 3% of Apple iPhone users had ever used Apple Pay to make a transaction. And among that 3%, just 17% said that they use Apple Pay "every chance they get."

One analyst quoted in one of the articles speculated that Apple could "offer additional rewards for cardholders who make purchases when they link the card to Apple Pay, encouraging them to use it."

Yes, it could do that, but the two firms would have to get their cards into people's hands in the first place. The prevailing sentiment among many of the experts quoted was the card would be most appealing to Apple loyalists. While many Apple customers are fiercely loyal to the company, Apple-related purchases probably don't account for a very large percentage of their overall purchases--like an Amazon might--diminishing the attractiveness of the card offering to all the Apple fanboys and girls out there.

It's not an impossible task. Cornerstone's consumer research found interest among Millennials for an Apple Pay debit card. But there was significantly greater interest in a PayPal card (which has already launched), and potential competition from Google and Venmo.

I asked my colleague Tony DeSanctis, Senior Director in Cornerstone's payments practice, what he thought the "so what" of this announcement. He said "I guess my whole so what is so what?" I agree. The amount of press attention this "announcement" is getting is way out of line with what the market impact will be--if it actually does ever come to market.

Ron Shevlin
Director of Research
Cornerstone Advisors

 

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