Apple Inc. is launching a credit card backed by Goldman Sachs Group Inc., marking both the tech giant's and the bank's first credit card.
"As a newcomer to consumer financial services, Goldman was up for the challenge of doing something more bold and innovative," Jennifer Bailey, vice president of Apple Pay, said at the company's March 25 event.
The new Mastercard Inc. credit card will have no fees and is expected to launch in the U.S. in the summer of 2019. It was rumored back in May 2018 that the two companies had teamed up to launch the card as they fought weaknesses in their respective core businesses.
Customers can sign up for the Apple Card within the Wallet app on their phones and start using it with Apple Pay in stores, mobile apps or online. The card has iPhone-specific features, such as making Apple Card support available 24/7 by sending a text through the phone's Messages app.
Apple said the credit card uses machine learning and the company's mapping feature to label transactions with merchant names and locations, making spending easier to understand and track. The purchases are automatically totaled and organized by color-coded categories, such as "Food and Drinks" or "Shopping and Entertainment," the company said.
One industry analyst said he was "underwhelmed" by the announcement.
"This card will get a lot of headlines, but its bark is greater than its bite," Ted Rossman, industry analyst at CreditCards.com, said in an email. "People will sign up for it, but that will be mostly because they love Apple, not because this card is better than anything that already exists."
Rossman noted that another bank is offering better Apple Pay rewards than Apple's new card. The tech giant is offering daily cash back, giving customers 2% back on Apple Pay purchases every day and 3% back for purchases made directly with Apple. Meanwhile, U.S. Bancorp's US Bank NA offers 3 points per dollar on mobile wallet spending, which is equivalent to 3% cash back or 4.5% off travel purchases.
Apple will also issue a physical card, which will not feature the card number, CVV, expiration date or signature on the card. That information, if needed, can be accessed through Apple's wallet app, Bailey said. Each payment includes a one-time security code and is authorized with either touch or face identification.
Rossman said the attempt to improve Apple Pay usage makes sense as competition in the peer-to-peer payments space heats up. Apple faces significantly larger P2P services from PayPal Holdings Inc. and its Venmo app.
PayPal had about 267 million active accounts across more than 200 markets at the end of 2018, according to the company's latest annual filing. And 69.2% of people surveyed in S&P Global Market Intelligence's 2018 mobile payments survey reported using PayPal's app to send or receive money from another individual. That compares to 23.4% who used Venmo and 11.2% who used Apple Pay.
Since the new credit card is so closely integrated with Apple Pay, consumers need to be iPhone users to maximize the benefits, Rossman said. The analyst said it was "a bit surprising" to see Apple doubling down on an iPhone-specific feature when its market share is declining. Apple held 16% of the phone market share in the fourth quarter of 2018, down two percentage points from the prior-year period, Rossman said.
"Apple could have made a similar push for a broader customer base but did not," he said.