• Sanjeev Kumar & Risav Chakraborty

An Apple A Day With FinTech In Play

In Aug 2018, Apple became the first company in the world to hit a $1T market capitalization, followed by a $2T valuation just two years later and briefly crossed the $3T mark in the month of Jan, 2022. The tech giant had its genesis in the dreams of Stephen G Wozniak, who planned to develop his own computer. In 1976, Apple was co-founded by Steve Jobs, Stephen Wozniak and Ronald Wayne in the Jobs’ family garage – a story that resonates with everyone’s favorite start-up fairytale of a few close friends, a garage, and humble beginnings. Though the release of Macintosh in 1984 was a major milestone for the company, the tech goliath’s leap into prominence can be majorly credited to Steve Jobs’ second stint as the CEO starting 1997.


Since the launch of the first iMac in 1998, Apple has always strived for innovation which has reflected in their investment and acquisition strategies. Their partnership with Walmart to launch voice activated grocery shopping via Siri and with Salesforce to facilitate developers build their own native applications are the perfect examples of Apple’s ambitions to actively expand its presence across industries, and also to bring synergies with digital finance and digital commerce sectors to grow its core business. In this post, we take a stroll down the memory lane as we explore Apple’s FinTech Playbook.


Apple’s first attempt to place its bid in the digital finance space can be traced back to 2014 through the launch of Apple Pay, where users can simply add their debit or credit cards on file from their iTunes store account. The mobile payments service surpassed 1B transactions in 2018; and the following year it not only hit the 10B mark, but also clocked 1B transactions per month.


This rapid growth of Apple Pay can be attributed to the company’s strategic partnerships and investments in both domestic and global markets. The service started gaining prominence in the international space in early 2019 – when Mastercard in collaboration with MADA, the national payment system of Saudi Arabia, rolled out Apple Pay in the Kingdom. Visa’s partnership with Starbucks and food and beverage service chain Hardee’s further accelerated the use and promotion of the service in Saudi Arabia and UAE. The following year, i2c partnered with Najm to introduce Apple Pay service to Najm card holders in the Middle East. In Europe, Credit Suisse and Nutmeg were the early adopters of the payments platform. While the Swiss Bank partnered with Apple to let customers register their credit cards with Apple Pay, UK’s first digital wealth platform Nutmeg allowed instant ISA and other investment top-ups via Apple Pay. Additional partnerships with two global payment service providers further drove the payments service’s popularity in the continent. Netherlands-based WL Payments integrated Apple Pay in their global payment page, and SumUp partnered with Apple Pay to boost merchant transactions in the UK. To further bolster the growth of the service, Apple acquired Italian start-up Stamplay, which notably won the Visa API development contest. In a bid to strengthen its foothold in the domestic market, Apple Pay partnered with Bird, a micro-mobility company, to permit users to rent a dockless scooter without downloading the e-scooter company’s app. In Africa, Paystack, a payment acceptance platform, integrated Apple Pay in its platform, facilitating Nigerian businesses to accept Apple Pay for international payments.


The biggest boost to Apple’s ambitions to join the financial sector innovation came in Aug 2019, when it partnered with Goldman Sachs and Mastercard to launch Apple Card – a credit card with an exciting rewards program called Daily Cash. Encouraged by the overwhelming response from consumers, Apple partnered with Walgreens to offer customers a 3% cashback when they use the Apple Card with Apple Pay on eligible purchases. Within a span of two years, Apple introduced Apple Card Family, which allowed two users to co-own an Apple Card and share and merge their credit lines while building credit together.


Apple’s courtship with buy now pay later solutions can be traced back to 2020, when it joined forces with Visa and Australian FinTech Zip, to launch a new ‘Tap and Zip’ feature. The launch of AfterPay card in Apple Pay further popularized the payments service down under. In an attempt to boost sales in the sub-continent and drive affordability, Apple partnered with Indian BNPL solution ZestMoney to let customers avail the Pay Later option while purchasing Apple products. A similar collaboration with Affirm’s PayBright facilitated Canadian customers to opt for a BNPL method while purchasing their favorite Apple products. According to a Bloomberg report published in 2021, Apple teamed up with Goldman Sachs to work on an Apple Pay later solution that permits customers to pay for any Apple Pay purchase in instalments over time.


Apple’s FinTech escapades spilled into the cryptocurrency industry as well when it announced partnerships with cryptocurrency exchanges Coinbase and Kraken. As a result of its tie up with Apple, Coinbase Cards added Apple Pay services to facilitate everyday transactions in the US. An identical collaboration with Kraken saw the cryptocurrency exchange integrate Apple Pay services in the Kraken app.


Apple’s ambition to expand its payments offerings to merchants was unveiled earlier this year when the tech behemoth announced plans to introduce Tap to Pay on iPhone, with Stripe being the first payment platform to offer the feature. The genesis of this contactless payment feature can be traced back to 2020, when Apple acquired Canadian startup Mobeewave for $100M in a bid to leverage the firm’s technology to transform iPhones into mobile payment terminals. Throughout the years, Apple has employed a clever ‘acquihire’ strategy, where it has focused on acquiring small firms employing a limited number of people. The company’s quiet investment approach seldom involves bankers, that justifies a lot of the deals going under the radar. There is a decent chance of you viewing this post from an Apple device which confirms how successful Apple has been in expanding its iEcosystem throughout the years, by implementing a clever amalgamation of innovation, investment and marketing strategies.


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