Here's how the new Apple Card could put pressure on Verizon and AT&T

Key Points
  • The Apple Card could make it easier for the tech giant to sell phones directly to consumers, without a wireless carrier in the middle.
  • Wireless carriers use phone financing plans to help keep customers locked into the carrier.
  • "At the very least, owning millions, or tens of millions, of iPhone billing relationships would give Apple an awful lot of leverage," MoffettNathanson analysts say.
Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks during Apple's annual Worldwide Developers Conference in San Jose, California, June 3, 2019.
Mason Trinca | Reuters

Apple's new credit card with Goldman Sachs could be a disruptive force in more than just the banking industry, according to two analysts at MoffettNathanson.

The technology device giant's move into banking could enable it to give customers financing for new models of the iPhone, breaking a key relationship point between customers and wireless carriers such as Verizon and AT&T, Craig Moffett and Lisa Ellis wrote in a note to clients.

Wireless carriers often sell expensive new phones to customers in installment plans as part of their monthly service bill. This helps keep customers locked into the carrier until the phone is paid off.

Apple's credit card is now available to all U.S. customers

Building off an idea from industry blogger Jim Patterson, the analysts said that Apple Card and new SIM card technology could make it easier for customers to switch between wireless services.

"Any iPhone purchased with Apple Card would naturally entail monthly payments to Apple rather than to Verizon or AT&T. That would make the phone much more 'portable' between carriers. Coupled with the coming arrival of eSIM technology in Apple phones, switching between carriers for Apple Card holders could then be virtually frictionless," the analysts said.

The analysts posed the idea that Apple, with a loyal army of customers who can easily switch carriers, could buy wireless service from telecom companies wholesale for their customers.

"At the very least, owning millions, or tens of millions, of iPhone billing relationships would give Apple an awful lot of leverage," the analysts wrote.

Apple unveiled the Apple Card earlier this year, tying the credit card into its Apple Pay system as it tries to expand its services business. The card became available to everyone in the United States earlier this week.

Shares of Apple were up more than 1% on Wednesday, rising along with major market indices. The company's stock has risen about 35% so far this year.

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