Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) is confident that the average American consumer can breathe life back into its struggling banking operations.
The firm has bolstered its consumer-facing business with the acquisition of 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 is keen 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 $2 billion to consumers. In January, Marcus began offering home improvement loans. Goldman will be welcoming Clarity's over one million customers to Marcus.
"Consumers want a better way to manage their finances,” said Stephen Scherr, Chief Executive Officer of GS Bank and Head of the Consumer & Commercial Banking Division. “Clarity Money has pioneered a consumer-centric approach to personal finance that will help Marcus continue to put power in the hands of consumers."
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.
Aside from adding Clarity Money to its consumer business ranks, the bank is reportedly also in talks to offer loans to Apple Inc. (AAPL) shoppers. According to the Wall Street Journal, Goldman wants to offer financing options to help consumers buy Apple phones, watches and other gadgets without paying extortionate interest rates on credit cards. (See also: Goldman Sachs Wants to Finance iPhone Purchases.)
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. (See also: How Goldman Sachs Makes its Money.)