Apple’s Small Fintech Acquisition Could Proceed A Credit Card Takeover

Image Credit: iStock, PhillDanze

Sign up for smart news, insights, and analysis on the biggest financial stories of the day.

Apple officially removed “Computer” from its name in 2007 as a nod to the company’s shift to consumer electronics like the iPhone. Since then, Apple has conquered more than just smartphones. Lucrative digital services — like the App Store, Apple Pay, and Apple Music — earned a combined $19.5 billion in the last three months of 2021.

Mere mortals might simply rest on those laurels, but not the most valuable company in the world. On Wednesday, Apple said it’s acquiring UK fintech Credit Kudos in what could be its first step toward an attempted takeover of the international consumer credit market.

Tim Cooks Up A Plan

Apple CEO Tim Cook said in January that Apple Card, the company’s credit card available only in the US, is showing “stunning” growth. But despite Cook’s previously stated desire to “offer the cards everywhere,” financial regulations abroad mean a global credit card product launch is not nearly as simple as exporting a few shipping containers of a new iPhone.

Enter Credit Kudos, a less than three-year-old London-based fintech specializing in credit checks. The company, which Apple paid $150 million for, could give Apple Card a path to the UK thanks to its business model that, well, thinks different:

  • Credit Kudos rivals Big Credit by performing credit checks on someone’s current finances rather than their financial past, allowing the approval of credit-worthy applicants who slip through the cracks of legacy companies like Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion.
  • Not only could Apple use the company’s tech to enhance Apple Card‌’s credit checker in the US, it could also serve as a stepping stone to Apple establishing itself as a provider of financial products in Britain, where South Korea’s Samsung introduced its Samsung Pay Card in 2020.

Bank On It? Apple has a history of quickly folding acquired companies into existing products, like classical music service Primephonic, which is joining Apple Music. In other cases, like music recognition app Shazaam, they’ve remained their own product.

Digital Papers, Please: Apple wants more than just credit cards: according to the New York Post, lobbyists for the company tried to convince the New York State DMV to let Apple store mobile driver’s licenses in the Apple Wallet. Privacy advocates would rather they hit the brakes.