Is the Apple Card a big deal?
A new paradigm shift in the financial industry with technology
I have been a phenomenal fan of Apple products and have been using them for a few years now. Every year, I look forward to their hardware and software events and have always been awestruck with the amazing presentations they deliver. However, on 25 March 2019, I was a bit surprised when Apple announced the Apple Card — a new credit card from Apple; the technology behemoth. For most, no one saw this coming. There were indeed rumours floating on social media, but it was hard to connect the dots about the end product. Most of us thought it would be just another credit card, like the Amazon or Walmart Credit Card, i.e. a regular credit card with higher rewards for transactions with the respective company. Therefore the rumours never caught the momentum, unlike other Apple rumours regarding the iPhone or other iProducts. The card was initially available for a limited preview on 6th Aug and finally, on 20th Aug 2019, the Apple card was made available for the anyone with an iPhone in the US.
What surprises most, is the question that why did a technology company launch a credit card, we wouldn’t be baffled if this news was from Citi or Chase; but why Apple?
If we look back, Apple has indeed solved quite a few problems in the consumer industry with extremely simple yet premium solutions using technology; this also could be an initiative in that direction.
When I aligned my thoughts with this belief and studied the Apple Card ecosystem, I could connect more dots and finally see things falling in a place. Eventually, the Apple Card started making sense to me. Today, there are numerous pain-points within the credit-card ecosystem, but the solutions from the providers were always presented in the form of better rewards. But didn’t we have several other problems than rewards, why not solve them first?
The Apple Card intuitively aims at solving the biggest consumer pain points in the credit card industry using cutting edge technology and Apple’s superieor design thinking framework that should have ideally been initiated by other financial giants. The following are some of the major features/highlights of the Apple Card, that personally enticed me to grab one.
- No more cryptic credit-card statements
Have you ever been in a situation where you are trying to recall the time and place where you made a transaction that appears on the credit card statement, but you have absolutely no memory about it? It is excruciatingly worrying when the cryptic information on the statement barely revealing any tangible information misleads you into believing a fraud transaction was charged, but in reality, it was a genuine one.
Apple Card uses machine learning to transform these names into meaningful names and embeds a geo-location (that can be digitally viewed on Apple Maps) along with the time with lucid descriptions for the transaction to help you easily understand your statements. I actually didn’t know, I would want this so much. When I saw Apple announcing this feature, I was so convinced that I definitely needed this one.
2. Real-time analysis of your spends
By far I haven’t seen any banking app that comes even remotely close to the Apple Wallet’s real-time visualization and analysis of spend. The overall spend type can be studied with the area of the colour distribution on the card. Each colour symbolizes a specific category. The more you spend for a given category, the dynamics of the card’s visual representation changes instantly. The weekly distribution of spend with simple and interactive visualization, dynamic categorization of all transactions and more importantly, everything in real-time is a much-needed feature for every major credit, but sadly never saw the light of the day until now.
Every credit card institution milks money from interest and services charges associated with a plethora of hidden clauses that might be Greek and Latin for most of us. You would definitely be able to recall few unpleasant anecdotal memories of being charged for something unusual only to discover later a tiny, cryptic and totally unexpexted clause in the service agreement.
The wallet app in the iPhone provides you with the necessary information on payments, interest rates and helps you plan better with the payment schedule, total interest to be paid (if necessary) with the easiest tools right in your app. Transparency in this ecosystem is pristine.
4. Security & Privacy
This is probably the most underrated feature of this product. The physical card comes with a simple and elegant design and doesn’t have the regular credit card number and other details. It just has your name and the Apple logo. The transactions are authenticated using Face ID— an extremely convenient and far more secure than any other means available today. In case you need to purchase from a website that doesn't have Apple pay integrated, you could punch in the card details like a regular card from the information provided within the Wallet app. If you are ever paranoid about a website that might abuse your credit card details; you can generate new card details instantly within the app. I definitely want to have this feature for every other card.
5. Daily cashback
The rewards for your transactions with Apple Card are deposited in Daily Cash. The cadence is not a month, but every day. Moreover, there’s no upper limit or max cap on the amount of Daily Cash one can get. It is automatically deposited into your Apple Cash account. The rewards are not impressive compared to other providers, but is very simple and transparent — 1% on all transactions through the Physical card, 2% for all wallet transactions and 3% for Apple transactions (iTunes or other Apple products)
6. Easiest setup
I have never seen any other credit card being setup so easily and instantly. The activation of the physical card which arrives later is also super simple and intuitive. It is similar to setting up the AirPods on the iPhone, astonishingly easy!
7. Easy Customer Support
The wallet app provides a simple way to communicate with the support team. No need for calls or emails, the simple iMessage conversations within the app gets you connected for every problem that you might some help.
Overall, after contemplating the features launched with the Apple Card, I am convinced that this is the beginning of a new technological shift in the financial industry. The rewards from the credit card are not the best, they are at best, okayish. But however, ‘rewards’ was not the original problem they wanted to solve, it was much more — simplicity, transparency, and privacy. And Apple has nailed that with the Apple Card.