In April of 2018, Goldman Sachs acquired personal-finance startup Clarity Money, an app founded by venture capitalist Adam Dell, the brother of Dell Inc. founder Michael Dell, that uses artificial intelligence to help consumers lower their bills, find a better credit card or create a savings account.
The Wall Street bank has been trying to widen the reach of its online lending operation, Marcus, which began making personal loans on the internet in 2016 and has so far reportedly lent out more than $5 billion to consumers. In January of 2019, Marcus began offering home improvement loans along with savings accounts.
On January 13, 2020, Goldman finally rolled out a new version of the Marcus app that integrates the technology behind Clarity Money. The app, which allows customers to check their balances and set up recurring transactions, is the foundation for Goldman's array of digital banking services, according to Dell, who is now a Goldman Sachs partner and head of product at Marcus.
“Our aspiration is very clear: We want to build the best digital banking experience that any customer can have,” Dell told CNBC. “As I think about the competitive landscape of the incumbent consumer banks, I think there’s enormous opportunity for us to differentiate ourselves with great digital products.”
We spoke to Adam Dell in 2017 just after he launched Clarity Money, which he eventually sold to Goldman Sachs for $100 million.
Adam Dell Launches Clarity Money
Goldman’s interest in Clarity Money marks one of several consumer-focused opportunities that the company is exploring as part of its plan to diversify its business and add $5 billion in revenue by 2020. Goldman’s eagerness to offer more loans to regular customers has already seen it acquire Oakland, California-based credit-card startup Final earlier this year and partner up with Intuit Inc. (INTU), a maker of financial and tax-management software, in October 2017.
To date, Marcus has collected about $55 billion in deposits and made $5 billion in loans, a small amount compared to its banking rivals. By expanding the capabilities of the Marcus app, Goldman may be able to convince customers to use Marcus for other services besides loans and banking.
Goldman’s move to help shoppers buy increasingly expensive Apple products reportedly forms part of a wider plan to finance a variety of different purchases. The Journal added that the Wall Street bank eventually wants to offer loans covering all consumer needs, including vacations, home furnishings and dental care.
The plan is to initially offer financing through loans and then later on potentially introduce store-branded or private-label credit cards, similar to what lenders such as Synchrony Financial (SYF) offer. By 2020, Goldman is reportedly targeting a consumer lending balance of $13 billion.