By guest author AnnaMaria Andriotis from the Wall Street Journal.
June 30, 2023
The Wall Street firm is in talks with American Express AXP 1.23%increase; green up pointing triangle to take over its Apple credit card and other ventures with the tech giant, according to people familiar with the matter.
Goldman went public with plans to scale back its consumer business late last year, but it appeared committed to the Apple relationship. The bank recently extended the partnership through the end of the decade, agreed to support Apple’s “buy now, pay later” offering and launched a bank account with the tech company.
Now it is in talks to offload those businesses and its credit-card partnership to Amex, according to people familiar with the discussions. Goldman has also discussed transferring its card partnership with General Motors to Amex or another issuer, some of the people said.
A deal with Amex isn’t imminent or assured, people familiar with the conversations said, and it could take a while to transfer the partnership in any case. Apple would have to agree to a transfer. The tech company is aware of the talks, which have been ongoing for months, the people said.
A retreat from Apple and credit cards would effectively end Goldman’s consumer-lending business. The bank has already stopped issuing personal loans, and it is trying to sell GreenSky, the home-improvement lender it bought just last year.
Exiting the Apple partnership would also seal the fate of Goldman’s grand plans to become a full-service bank. Goldman, a firm best known for dominating the Wall Street businesses of investment banking and trading, first made a play for Main Street with its Marcus high-yield savings account in 2016. Three years later, it expanded into credit cards with its splashy Apple partnership. Goldman reached a deal for GreenSky in late 2021 and closed on the purchase early last year.
That changed when Goldman decided to scale back its consumer ambitions late last year following an internal review. Goldman ended talks with T-Mobile to launch a credit card and stepped away from bidding on new programs, The Wall Street Journal reported in February. A few months later, Goldman said it would look for a buyer for GreenSky.
Still, Goldman stayed close to Apple. On a call with analysts in October, Chief Executive David Solomon talked up the relationship after announcing the bank’s broader retreat from full-service consumer banking.
“It’s a very, very strong partnership where there’s a lot of opportunity,” Solomon said at the time. The bank launched a savings account with Apple in April.
Solomon has fielded a lot of internal criticism for presiding over the costly consumer foray. In January, Goldman disclosed that it had lost about $3 billion on the consumer-lending push since 2020.
Should Goldman get out of the credit-card business and sell GreenSky, its consumer business would be reduced to its original product: the Marcus savings account.
The bank has said it has no plans to stop taking consumer deposits.