Apple Offers Exit Ramp to Goldman for Troubled Card Accord


(Bloomberg) — Goldman Sachs Group Inc., which has been trying to jettison its struggling credit card business, now has a potential way out of its partnership with Apple Inc.

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The iPhone maker, which offers a credit card and savings account with Goldman, recently sent a term sheet to the financial giant that would be a first step toward severing the contract, according to a person familiar with the matter. The process could still take multiple years, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the discussions are private. The partnership had been slated to last at least another five years.

Goldman Sachs has been pulling back from a foray into consumer lending after it proved costlier than expected. The New York-based company has said it pushed too quickly into the effort, contributing to missteps. Goldman also is expected to scrap a credit card partnership with General Motors Co.

For Apple, the partnership was part of a broader push into financial offerings. The company is looking to generate more revenue from services as sales of its hardware products slow. Apple got 22% of its sales from that category last year, up from less than 10% a decade ago.

The iPhone maker remains committed to its Apple Card credit card and savings account and doesn’t plan to discontinue the products — whether or not Goldman is involved — the person familiar with the situation said. Apple hasn’t gotten to the point of talking to firms that could replace Goldman, according to the person.

In a statement, Apple said it was “focused on providing an incredible experience for our customers to help them lead healthier financial lives.”

“The award-winning Apple Card has seen a great reception from consumers, and we will continue to innovate and deliver the best tools and services for them,” the Cupertino, California-based company said in the statement.

Goldman Sachs has been exploring options to get out of its credit card tie-ups for much of this year, people with knowledge of the matter have previously said. Apple’s proposal would give the company a way to do that, but it’s not yet a done deal, according to one of the people.

Goldman Sachs declined to comment. The Wall Street Journal previously reported on the proposal Apple sent to Goldman, saying it could take effect within approximately 12 to 15 months.

Goldman Sachs has held talks with American Express Co. to take over the Apple credit card and other services, but that company expressed concerns about loss rates, the Journal said. Synchrony Financial also broached the idea of taking over the credit card program, according to the newspaper.

Despite the struggles, Apple and Goldman Sachs just introduced a long-promised high-yield savings account in April. And the companies touted in August that the program had reached $10 billion in US deposits.

The savings account drew complaints from some users, who weren’t able to easily withdraw cash. Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook said in a June interview that the problem was caused by a security system designed to prevent fraud.

—With assistance from Sridhar Natarajan and Mark Gurman.

(Updates with chart after fourth paragraph.)

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