EXCLUSIVE— When Goldman Sachs & Co. launched its Marcus digital bank in late 2016, the conventional wisdom was the investment bank wanted to expand into retail banking.
But, apparently, that’s not the whole story.
Marcus, it seems, is an asset pricing play, Goldman’s CEO implied yesterday.
“It’s not just the way people are communicating prices, the prices are being made electronically, algorithmically, and [being] distributed that way,” Lloyd Blankfein, CEO for Goldman, told Bloomberg during an interview at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
The technology lets Goldman price retail assets on a wholesale basis — and Goldman is all about wholesale pricing of assets.
“The consumer experience is only an element of that business,” he said. “What’s an important element for that business is digital distribution, algorithmic risk management, distribution. Making a credit decision for five people wasn’t in our wheelhouse. Making a credit decision for 5 million people absolutely is.”
When it comes to retail banking, the advent of automation technology has “opened up new horizons for us,” Blankfein told Bloomberg, allowing Goldman, which has “always been associated with wholesale businesses” to launch Marcus — the bank’s digital lending and savings platform.
This approach to retail — which borrows much of the characteristics of wholesale the bank is so known for — relies heavily on automation, algorithms, and a lack of human error, as Blankfein has stated, but more importantly, it calls into question how other banks are approaching digital pricing.
Separately, while championing automation and other technologies in the Davos interview, Blankfein also dismissed rumors that the bank was opening a bitcoin trading desk, stating that the bank will “clear futures contracts for our clients” that want to trade such futures, but “trading, principling, making a market, we’re not doing.”
View Blankfein’s full interview with Bloomberg below:
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