Apple has slowly built a position for itself as a financial services giant, banking around its digital wallet to store a user’s payment cards, and launching its own Apple Card in 2019. Today , at Apple’s spring event, the company announced the new chapter in this story: the launch of the Family Apple Card, which will allow partners / spouses to create joint credit and also give family members over 13 years old access using the Apple Card.
Apple Card Family will first launch in the United States in May after users update to the latest version of iOS, Apple said today.
The timing of the announcement is interesting. Last month, Apple and its partner Goldman Sachs were cleared of any gender bias in the way they construct credit scoring in the Apple card, a lengthy investigation that has simmered for almost as long as the Apple card itself.
At the time of the ruling, even as Apple had been cleared, the regulator noted that what the case highlighted was more endemic gender and other disparities in the credit scoring system, particularly in with regard to spouses and partners.
In light of this, some might say today’s announcement comes as no surprise, and others might say it’s long overdue.
This service announcement gives the impression that it is the company’s effort to seal the deal and draw a line under this story, and more formally state its intentions to be fair even though the regulations have not. still caught up.
“One of the things that first dawned on us [of launching Apple Card] was a lack of fairness in the way the industry calculated credit scores when there were two credit card holders, ”CEO Tim Cook said today. “One of you has had the benefit of having a good credit history and the other hasn’t. We want to reinvent the way it works. “
(It’s also not a surprise on another level: Developer previews of iOS 14.5 revealed that Apple is integrating multi-user support for Apple cards, laying the foundation for joint accounts for adults. and wider family use.)
As Cook described it, spouses and partners will be allowed to share and merge their lines of credit with equal rights to their account, in order to “build credit equally”.
“This solution helps provide financial equity, and it’s a game changer,” he said. Indeed, in cases where a partner has unpaid debts, or has defaulted on part of this debt, or does not have the same earning power, this decision is a way to confer stronger purchasing power. from one partner to another, in cases where the partners combine their finances anyway. It makes sense and, frankly, it is long overdue.
The ability to give access to the Apple Card to those over 13, meanwhile, will come with spending limits if you want to put them on, along with other controls over how it can be used.
It’s also smart, an extension of how Apple has built a role as a “responsible” tech company with privacy controls for all users and parental controls for devices, and now it’s adding a new angle, becoming an educational tool.
Many parents are turning to technology and apps to boost their children’s financial sense, so it makes sense that Apple is positioning itself as a partner in this effort.
While allowing families to manage their finances more fairly, there is of course another more business-oriented strategy: this clearly gives Apple a much larger pool of potential consumers using its Apple Card, using services like Daily Cash (which gives up to 3% of every cash purchase to users’ Apple Cash card each day) and access using the secure titanium Apple card which comes with no visible card number, code CVV security certificate, expiration date or signature.
Speaking of which, we don’t really know how many people are using this Apple card today. Cook simply called the Apple Card, which was estimated to be used by over 3.1 million people as of March 2020, “the most successful credit card launch ever.”