At Apple announced his Apple Card almost a year ago it seemed like a great card with the main selling point being improved privacy. Well, with iOS 13.4, it seems that Apple has updated that privacy to allow for more anonymized data sharing with its banking partner Goldman Sachs.
Before you grab a virtual pitchfork, yelling about how that was inevitable morally bankrupt Goldman Sachs would get your glove on your data – it is slightly more nuanced than that. The changes, which were first reported by TechCrunch, are more adjustments to existing policies than a stealth attack to damage your privacy.
The new policy is part of iOS 13.4 updates and this is the part that has changed:
You may be eligible for certain Apple Card programs from Goldman Sachs based on the information provided as part of your application. Apple may know whether you are receiving the invitation to participate and whether you accept or decline the invitation and may share that information with Goldman Sachs to run the program. Apple does not provide additional details about your participation in the program.
Apple may use information about your account with Apple, such as the fact that you have an Apple Card, for internal research and analysis purposes, such as financial forecasts. Apple may also use information about your relationship with Apple, such as which Apple products you have purchased, how long you have had your Apple ID, and how often you do business with Apple, to improve Apple Card by helping to identify Apple metrics that can help Goldman Sachs improve credit decisions. No personally identifiable information about your relationship with Apple is shared with Goldman Sachs to identify the relevant Apple statistics. You can opt out of this use or your Apple relationship information by emailing our privacy team at [email protected] with the subject line “Apple Relationship Information and Apple Card”. Applicants and cardholders may choose to share the identified statistics with Goldman Sachs to re-evaluate their credit offer or increase their credit limit. Apple may share information about your relationship with Apple with our service providers, who are required to process the information in accordance with this notice and Apple instructions, who must take reasonable security measures to protect all personal information received, and must remove the personal information as once they have completed the services. ‘
Looking at this, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, Goldman Sachs gets a richer data set, but nothing that contains personally identifiable information. (But like so many experts have pointed outanonymised data are not always so anonymous.) The amended text also states that some of the comprehensive shared data can be used to help Goldman Sachs “improve credit decisions”. That’s the key here. When the Apple Card was launched, there were several anecdotal differences with who got approved, who didn’t, and what conditions people got. Famous, Steve Wozniak took to Twitter to emphasize how he ended up getting a credit limit that was 10 times that of his wife, despite both sharing their belongings. (Goldman Sachs fast backward.)
So part of the reason Apple shares more data – albeit anonymized data – is to create a new model that would get more people who would be rejected under the old model to get credit. This is one of those things where it would normally be a sign of alarm, but in this particular case it may be right. It was worrying when Goldman Sachs was revealed to be approving sub-prime applicants immediately after the card is launched. However, with use the Apple Card itself, the limits are quite low, the rates are fine, and there is a built-in tool that helps you visualize how your payments affect interest rates.
Apple get some kudos for making a new one Customer Assistance Program for those financially affected by the new corona virus, voiding interest costs for customers who are unable to make their March payments. It is a testament to how much control Apple has over the map itself, since no capitalist bank would do such things if it had not been commissioned by the government. Basically Citigroup passed on the Apple Card because it thought it was a “money loser.” And hey, what better time to increase the anonymous data exchange in a program than at the same time you announce a program to help people affected by the coronavirus?
It is also important to keep in mind that Goldman Sachs has always had access to Apple Card customer data, but not transaction data. The Apple site states that Goldman Sachs uses your information to use the card, but will never “share or sell your information to third parties for marketing or advertising.” Whether you believe that or not, Apple Card disclosure is better than most other credit card agreements. (Of course, what Goldman Sachs does internally with your data is another matter.)
Second, the policy updates still allow users to opt in or out of sharing more personal information if they are denied the card. This is also not new: it now just contains more data, such as which Apple products you have bought in the past, when you created your Apple ID or how much you spend on Apple. You can still opt out of sending that information, even if it’s rather weak to bury it as an email in a privacy statement.