Google launches its own UK credit card

The Bank of Google is open for business.

With the announcement of the “Adwords Business Credit Card”, Google has officially entered the credit industry.

After a successful year-long pilot scheme in the United States, Google has teamed up with Barclays to issue MasterCard credit cards usable exclusively on purchases of Adwords – the small adverts that appear on the site’s search engine.

The initiative is primarily intended to help its customers finance these purchases through offering credit ranging from $200 (aprx £125) to $100,000 (aprx £62,000) a month at a highly competitive rate of 11.9 per cent. The exact terms can be found here.

The pilot scheme revealed that the service led to significant growth in advertising purchases, with 74 per cent of respondents using the Adwords card. Google expects that the full deployment of its credit scheme will produce a multiplier effect that will encourage customers to allocate an increasing share of their marketing budget to Google Adwords.

Google treasurer Brent Callinicos revealed as much in an interview the FT, declaring that Google was “not trying to run the financing business as a profit centre”, solely as a lubricant to stimulate advertising investment.

Google began inviting small and medium sized business to join the program from Sunday.

In partnership with Comenity Capital Bank, a similar credit card will be released in the United States in the upcoming weeks with an 8.99 per cent rate of interest.

This isn’t the first time a technology giant has made a foray into financial services: Apple offers financing through its own Visa, whilst Amazon launched its own credit initiative last week to independent sellers wanting to list products at the Amazon Marketplace.

Photo: AFP/Getty

Alex Ward is a London-based freelance journalist who has previously worked for the Times & the Press Association. Twitter: @alexward3000

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Is anyone prepared to solve the NHS funding crisis?

As long as the political taboo on raising taxes endures, the service will be in financial peril. 

It has long been clear that the NHS is in financial ill-health. But today's figures, conveniently delayed until after the Conservative conference, are still stunningly bad. The service ran a deficit of £930m between April and June (greater than the £820m recorded for the whole of the 2014/15 financial year) and is on course for a shortfall of at least £2bn this year - its worst position for a generation. 

Though often described as having been shielded from austerity, owing to its ring-fenced budget, the NHS is enduring the toughest spending settlement in its history. Since 1950, health spending has grown at an average annual rate of 4 per cent, but over the last parliament it rose by just 0.5 per cent. An ageing population, rising treatment costs and the social care crisis all mean that the NHS has to run merely to stand still. The Tories have pledged to provide £10bn more for the service but this still leaves £20bn of efficiency savings required. 

Speculation is now turning to whether George Osborne will provide an emergency injection of funds in the Autumn Statement on 25 November. But the long-term question is whether anyone is prepared to offer a sustainable solution to the crisis. Health experts argue that only a rise in general taxation (income tax, VAT, national insurance), patient charges or a hypothecated "health tax" will secure the future of a universal, high-quality service. But the political taboo against increasing taxes on all but the richest means no politician has ventured into this territory. Shadow health secretary Heidi Alexander has today called for the government to "find money urgently to get through the coming winter months". But the bigger question is whether, under Jeremy Corbyn, Labour is prepared to go beyond sticking-plaster solutions. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.