Could Apple Card finally become an international service?

There was a lot of interest when Apple introduced Apple Card with Goldman Sachs, but the Cupertino credit card never expanded beyond the US. Goldman Sachs now wants to quit its involvement in the Apple Card and savings business and is in talks with American Express to sell this part of its business.

Can American Express finally help deliver an international presence for Apple Card?

Goldman Sachs seeks an Apple Card exit

Indeed, Apple’s partner appears to be abandoning its consumer banking business following its money-losing $2.24 billion purchase of consumer finance company GreenSky, a deal on which it may yet lose billions. The company reportedly had big problems scaling up to become a consumer-facing digital retail bank.

Apple, Goldman Sachs, and American Express won’t comment on the speculation, first highlighted by the Wall Street Journal. But, in October, Apple and Goldman renewed their partnership until 2029, following up on their then-strengthened alliance with the introduction of Apple Card Savings, a high-yield savings account for Apple Card users. The latter allegedly attracted more than $1 billion in deposits within just four days.

That big result doesn’t disguise that Goldman Sachs lost over a billion dollars in the first nine months of 2022 on the business unit behind Apple Card. In addition, reports that customers sometimes had to wait weeks to take cash out of their savings account dented the service’s halo.

Bottom line?

The Apple connection didn’t generate profitable revenue as swiftly as the partners had originally intended — though given the attention the link generated along with the tens of millions saved, the arrangement also managed to be a success.

Perhaps the problem was around scale. What if the purported talks with American Express weren’t just about reading the last rites for Goldman Sachs and Apple Card, but instead about christening a new and international ramp for the service?

American Express recently said that spending by millennials and Generation Z customers increased 28% in Q1, accounting for more than 60% of new Amex accounts. The company has said it is looking to invest in such customers.

“Millennials have been a big part of our growth story, and if you go back pre-pandemic, they represented about 20% of our billings. Now they represent 30% of our billings,” said CEO Stephen Squeri, as reported by Pymnts. An Apple Card link could help broaden that reach.

Beyond US shores

American Express already has an international profile and reach that Goldman Sachs wasn’t in this sector long enough to build. In other words, Apple and American Express could potentially reach customers on an international basis in a way Apple and Goldman Sachs couldn’t stretch to.

There is a little synergy here: Not only is Apple Card inherently aimed at wealthier customers, but the business plan for both cards also resonates, adding value to the process aimed at those higher-end customers. Amex rewards are all about this, though Apple Card arguably took this forward a couple of steps.

None of this is certain, particularly in the current economic environment in which the times of cheap(er) credit may be over for some while. The WSJ report says reaching an arrangement could take time and warns that Apple’s approval will be required for the deal to go ahead.

All the same, the rapid pace at which Apple Card was adopted by the same high-value clients Amex likes to build its business on, along with the global attention Apple achieved with the card, shows there is an appetite for novel, new banking service propositions of this kind.

Perhaps a deal with Amex will help Apple reach international audiences, particularly in emerging economies within which it is currently investing so much. Though perhaps it must first find a way to internationalize another of its well-known but enduringly US-only products, Apple Cash if it truly seeks an international opportunity.

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