Apple has entered the banking business with the launch of a credit card yesterday. Apple flagged several weeks ago that it had a credit card offering on the way, which it unveiled yesterday as a collaboration with Goldman Sachs, which will issue the card, and Mastercard. The Apple credit card will take physical form and also integrate tightly with the iPhone and Apple Pay. Apple has distanced itself from the voracious data gatherers at Facebook and Google with its insistence on privacy. Last October, Tim Cook called for new data laws. However, having Goldman Sachs eyeball your data, while promising not to share it with anyone, doesn't sound reassuring.
There's a bigger issue at play here of course. China's digital giants Alibaba and Tencent operate within that country's surveillance culture — much as Google and Facebook operate a surveillance economy in the US and beyond, and Tim Cook has made a point of insisting on new data privacy laws for the United States similiar to those enacted in Europe. Such laws would necessarily hit Google and Facebook harder than Apple, and for Tim Cook, what's not to like about that? "Want to know why Apple has become such an advocate for data privacy recently?" writes Ron Shelvin. "It's the only way it can fight back against Amazon, Facebook, and Google. If you ascribe a more altruistic reason to the company's privacy-related proclamations, you're deceiving yourself. Unfortunately for Apple, the credit card business is a data-driven business. The best issuers have great analytics teams and capabilities. Apple doesn't."
Speaking of data security, the Apple launch comes as the world seems to separate out now into a series of elaborate walled gardens with criminal gangs and state surveillance apparatuses trying to get over. According to central bankers in the US and Japan, the biggest threat currently facing financial institutions is cybercrime. "U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell and Japan's central bank chief Haruhiko Kuroda earlier this year said cyberattacks are currently the biggest risk for financial institutions." As Reuters reports, citing BAE Systems, "out of 94 cases of cyberattacks reported as financial crimes since 2007, the attackers behind 23 of them were believed to be state-sponsored, the majority coming from countries like Iran, Russia, China and North Korea, the report found." One wonders where the other 71 biggest attacks were coming from? Or does Reuters expect us to believe that the US, UK, etc are sitting quietly by as those alleged enemies of the west steal all of our things?
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