Apple Card’s balance grew by $1 billion (50%) in 3 months
Back in July, Goldman Sachs, the issuing bank for Apple Card, reported this in its Q2 earnings call:
Funded consumer loan balances remained stable at roughly $7 billion, of which approximately $5 billion were from Marcus loans and $2 billion from Apple CardSource: Seeking Alpha
Three months later, the bank said this on its Q3 earnings call this month:
Funded consumer loan balances remained stable at $7 billion, of which approximately $4 billion were from Marcus loans and $3 billion from Apple Card.Source: Seeking Alpha
My best guess is that the figures for Q2 and Q3 were likely as of the end of June and September. In the banking world, we call them month-end balance. Both Goldman Sachs and Apple have been very tight-lipped about Apple Card. There is very little information and data publicly revealed by either party. With that being said, I do think that it’s positive for Apple and Goldman Sachs to increase month-end balance in 3 months’ time.
There are two ways that this could possibly happen. 1/ The existing accounts in the portfolio saw more usage and a higher accrue of balance and 2/ the portfolio expanded with new accounts and its balance increased. Because we are still struggling in a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic, scenario #1 seems less likely to me. Even if the portfolio’s size stayed the same in September as it did in June, the increase in balance would be much lower than 50% as we see here. Hence, it’s my belief that Apple Card portfolio has expanded and as a result, so has the balance. It’s worth pointing out that since the number of accounts likely increased yet there is no official reporting on it, we don’t really know if the average balance per account really went up from June to September. Nonetheless, a higher balance means:
- More accounts were opened
- Accounts were used more, leading to an increase of balance
- Customers are more likely to revolve, resulting in interest income for Goldman Sachs
Last year, Apple announced a payment plan for iPhones with 0% interest for 24 months. In June 2020, the payment plan expanded to include other product lines:
It’s not a stretch to see that these financing options contribute to the increase in balance of Apple Card portfolio. From Goldman Sachs and Apple’s perspective, they would prefer cardholders to make purchases outside Apple, but because there is little information officially revealed, there is no way to dissect how the portfolio is really performing.
At $3 billion in balance as of September 2020, Apple Card portfolio has so much room to grow. Based on outstanding balance, it’s quite small, compared to other issuers, though it’s unclear whether these portfolios are strictly in the US only
- Chase: $122 billion in balance for consumer credit card as of Q3 2020.
- Capital One: $12 billion in balance for consumer credit card as of Q2 2020.
- Discover: $70 billion in balance for consumer credit card as of Q2 2020
- Wells Fargo: $36 billion in balance for consumer credit card as of Q3 2020
A persistent and lucrative clientele for Goldman Sachs
I wrote a bit about the partnership between Apple and Goldman Sachs on Apple Card here before. Now I want to add a couple of more points to the conversation.
Apple users are enduring and lucrative. Once a person becomes an Apple user, he or she likely stays in the ecosystem and buys more products and services, as proven by Apple’s financials and analyst estimates. As of Q3 2020, Apple’s Wearables made up 11% of Apple’s total revenue and was the fastest growing segment in FY2020. Apple reported over 550 million subscriptions, up by 130 million from a year ago. With the introduction of Apple One and Apple Fitness+, that figure will likely go up even higher in the near future. Once an iPhone-reliant company, Apple now finds a robust source of revenue from Services, which was responsible for 22% of the company’s top line in Q3 FY2020.
Moreover, Neil Cybart, a prominent Apple analyst and the owner of Above Avalon, reported that nearly half of Apple users owned only one device: iPhone. He also estimated that only 35% of iPhone users in the US wear an Apple Watch. These estimates indicate that more Apple users will buy addition products on top of their iPhones and become engaged at a higher level in the ecosystem.
There is no credit card that offers 3% cash back AND interest-free financing options for Apple products and services like Apple Card. Hence, Goldman Sachs has a unique access to a lucrative clientele that
- Tends to be sticky and loyal to Apple
- Buys new expensive Apple products regularly on a few-year basis
- Uses their Apple Cards monthly with their service subscriptions. Working in the credit card world, I can tell you that having users engaged and actively use cards every month is one of the major concerns for issuers. With Apple subscriptions and an expanding base, albeit as small as $3 per month for iCloud, Goldman Sachs likely will get a good number of active accounts with consistent spending every month, without any acquisition expenses.
At first, there were only exclusive deals with 3% cash back from Uber, Uber Eats, Walgreen, Duane Reader and T-Mobile. Since then, Apple Card has welcomed to the fold Nike in November 2019, Exxon Mobil in June 2020 and Panera in August 2020. Additionally, Apple began to have acquisition bonus campaigns for Apple Card this year. A few months ago, there was a $50 bonus for every new Apple Card user with a minimum $50 purchase at Walgreen. Just a few days ago, it was reported that there is now a $75 bonus for new Apple Card users with a qualifying purchase at Nike. The more exclusive deals like these are, the more likely consumers will use Apple Card outside of Apple. And there is no reason to believe that they won’t add new partners or have acquisition campaigns in the future.
Besides Apple Card, Apple has been consistently and regularly promoting the use of Apple Pay with ad-hoc deals such as 15% off with American Eagle in October 2020, 50% off with Snapfish in July 2020 or 30% off with Rayban in May 2020. There is no data on how many Apple Pay accounts are paired with Apple Cards. But given the fact that users can only earn 2% Apple Cash from every Apple Pay transaction by using Apple Card, I won’t surprise me that Apple Pay promotions indirectly benefit Apple Card and Goldman Sachs.
There are rumors of new Apple products in the works such as Air Tags, Airpods Studio or Apple AR glasses. The more products and resulting services there are, the better the future outlook will be for Apple Card.
Disclosure: I own Apple stocks in my personal portfolio.