Goldman Sachs has officially thrown its hat into the online lending ring with the launch of Marcus – a new platform The New York Times is calling an online lender for the masses.
“For the masses” is not usually a term associated with the elite investment bank – but Goldman Sachs is digging deep and trying to modernize into a rapidly changing financial services culture. Modernization – but with an eye for the past. The new online lender is named for Marcus Goldman, one of the firm’s co-founders. Apparently naming the lender Joseph – in honor of Joseph Sachs – lost out.
Marcus is not automatic for the people yet – Goldman is expected to roll out the offering in October, according to anonymous internal sources. The name has drawn positive snap judgement reviews for its brevity, simplicity and tech-trendiness – particularly for a firm that got its start in the century before the last one.
Marcus will hit the market offering small consumer loans – an area Goldman has traditionally avoided. Goldman has historically served corporations, governments and the ultra-wealthy. New regulations, however, have pushed Goldman (among others on Wall Street) to look for other revenue streams going forward.
Goldman has also begun offering savings account under the GS Bank brand – it is not clear if the two business lines will be merged in the future. It is also not clear if the move will help Goldman repair the severe reputational problems it developed after the financial crisis.
Rolling Stone magazine literally referred to Goldman as “a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity.”
Goldman has an advantage over online only lenders because it is a bank with steady funding (but no overhead related to branches).
The big question is: will Marcus serve the little guy as well as Goldman Sachs has served the big dogs?