How Apple can keep growing in financial services without ever becoming a bank

In a recent (and rare) data release, Apple claimed over 12 million Apple Card accounts, five years after launch. Meanwhile, Apple Pay, Apple Savings and Apple Pay Later keep growing, all inside the famous Apple 'Walled Garden.'

Banks and credit unions have been watching Apple move further and further into the financial services business for over a decade now. Even after all that time, the question remains: Does Apple want to be a bank?

Not likely. For one thing, It has already attracted sufficient regulatory attention from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

And even as few nonbanks have delved so far into banking and payments as Apple, its name never came up when insiders spoke of companies that might try for a “fintech charter,” back when that pipedream was still vivid. Nor has Apple ever been seriously spoken of as a potential bank acquirer. And when it launched the Apple Card in 2019, it did so in partnership with Goldman Sachs, when the Wall Street bank was trying to make a foray into consumer banking in a big way.

The losses Goldman has since taken on the card are well-known now. The deal is being renegotiated and many expect Goldman’s role to be supplanted by another lender. At the megabank’s recent yearend 2023 earnings briefing, management all but slammed the window on answering any questions about credit card partnerships.


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