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Apple Card Gets By With A Little Help from Its Friends (Goldman Sachs, Mastercard and Oprah!)

By Matthew Dove

Apple has launched “a new kind of credit card” today in close association with Mastercard and Goldman Sachs. The Apple Card, available this summer, has arrived with spirited fanfare which coincides with the starry introduction of Apple TV+, a streaming service closely associated with Hulu and HBO.

Besides the bells, whistles and celeb cameos what are these products actually offering?

Well, it’s a little hard to tell…

Apple TV+ was unveiled by Steven Spielberg, who’ll be creating content for the new platform, and will launch in the autumn. A raft of other big names – Reese Witherspoon, Steve Carell, Jason Momoa and Big Bird (I kid you not) – showed up to the launch in exchange for big cheques and small canapés.

Whether the Apple Card bears fruit is anyone’s guess but only a fool would write off the tech juggernaut’s latest effort, as Ms Winfrey herself put it, “They’re in a billion pockets, y’all!”

The only truly noteworthy takeaways from the launch were omissions; Netflix will play no part in the cross-device venture and no subscription fee was specified.

Apple TV+ will live or die on the quality of its content then and competition is fierce.

What of the credit card?

Again, the water is murky. Apple Card is perhaps more accurately described as Goldmans Sachs’ first credit card as the legacy giant, along with Mastercard, is doing all the heavy lifting when it comes to the fintech. The partnership certainly makes for eye-catching headlines but details of the offering remain unclear. For instance, no mention has yet been made as to what credit limits or interest rates will be.

To compete in such a crowded market, Apple Card will need to stand out and it certainly does that. I mean, have you seen the card? It’s sooo cool!

apple card
Cool card, Marissa…

 

Unfortunately, Apple Card’s appeal may prove to be as thin as the titanium it’s made from if industry insiders are to be believed. Despite Apple CEO Tim “Apple” Cook boldly declaring that the card’s arrival was the sector’s biggest leap forward “in 50 years”, Kevin Morrison of Aite Group disagrees. The senior analyst told the FT that Apple Card isn’t offering any features not presently available from other providers;

“They’re integrating all of the one-offs that are already out there”

Before adding that consumers, “already have four other cards in their wallets. You still have to compete with Citibank, Chase and the rest.”

One big plus could be Apple Card’s 2 per cent cash back on all purchases and no annual, late or other fees.

Brian Riley, an analyst at Mercator Advisory, asserts that this selling point is “rare but not unique.” He also pours cold water on the card’s daily cash back feature, calling it “neat” but lacking any real value. Riley notes that a credit card account running charges of 20,000 USD a year, would accrue daily rewards worth roughly 1 USD. Thin gruel indeed!

Riley concludes by asking;

“What’s going to compel me to apply for that Apple card?”

Whether the Apple Card bears fruit is anyone’s guess but only a fool would write off the tech juggernaut’s latest effort, as Ms Winfrey herself put it, “They’re in a billion pockets, y’all!”

Apple have got plenty of form for “bringing together innovations first developed by others” i.e. getting money for old rope. Furthermore, an association with Goldman Sachs – whose presence is goliath and relationship with the US Treasury Department is “cordial” – will do the Apple Card’s prospects no harm at all…

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