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Apple VP Jennifer Bailey introduces the Apple Card at Apple's Monday event. Screenshot from Apple video

Most Apple products are expensive. You want them, but you hate how much you're forced to pay for them. They often use premium materials, too. When the titanium PowerBook was launched in January 2001, it started at $2,599 — $3,750 in today's dollars. The titanium Apple Card, by contrast, launched Monday with great fanfare, is entirely free.

Why it matters: This is an ambitious attempt by both Goldman and Apple to break into the world of consumer finance. But gaining significant market share from the giants in the space will not be easy.

For the unbeatable price of $0, customers will be able to flex a gorgeous minimalist card — so minimalist, in fact, that it comes without normally-standard features like a card number or an expiration date. Instead, you can generate one-off numbers on your phone.

  • Apple has partnered with Goldman Sachs for this product, although the Goldman logo is relegated to the rear of the card. Goldman bought Final last year, a company which specialized in generating new credit card numbers off a single account; it also bought Clarity, which specializes in spend tracking and analysis. Both of those features are core to the Apple Card, the workings of which are also woven tightly with Apple Pay.
  • The all-important underwriting process is going to be on Goldman. When you tap your phone to apply for the card, Goldman will have to instantaneously decide how creditworthy you are, how much of a credit line it will offer you, and how much interest it will charge.

Timing: The card won't be available till summer. Apple didn't announce interest rates and other key details.

Go deeper

USAID chief tests positive for coronavirus

An Air Force cargo jet delivers USAID supplies to Russia earlier this year. Photo: Mikhail Metzel/TASS via Getty Images

The acting administrator of the United States Agency for International Development informed senior staff Wednesday he has tested positive for coronavirus, two sources familiar with the call tell Axios.

Why it matters: John Barsa, who staffers say rarely wears a mask in their office, is the latest in a series of senior administration officials to contract the virus. His positive diagnosis comes amid broader turmoil at the agency following the election.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
6 hours ago - Health

COVID-19 shows a bright future for vaccines

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Promising results from COVID-19 vaccine trials offer hope not just that the pandemic could be ended sooner than expected, but that medicine itself may have a powerful new weapon.

Why it matters: Vaccines are, in the words of one expert, "the single most life-saving innovation ever," but progress had slowed in recent years. New gene-based technology that sped the arrival of the COVID vaccine will boost the overall field, and could even extend to mass killers like cancer.

7 hours ago - Health

Beware a Thanksgiving mirage

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Don't be surprised if COVID metrics plunge over the next few days, only to spike next week.

Why it matters: The COVID Tracking Project warns of a "double-weekend pattern" on Thanksgiving — where the usual weekend backlog of data is tacked on to a holiday.