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

How Jim Murphy's mistake cost Labour - and helped make Ruth Davidson

Scottish Labour's former leader's great mistake was to run away from Labour's Scottish referendum, not on it.

The strange revival of Conservative Scotland? Another poll from north of the border, this time from the Times and YouGov, shows the Tories experiencing a revival in Scotland, up to 28 per cent of the vote, enough to net seven extra seats from the SNP.

Adding to the Nationalists’ misery, according to the same poll, they would lose East Dunbartonshire to the Liberal Democrats, reducing their strength in the Commons to a still-formidable 47 seats.

It could be worse than the polls suggest, however. In the elections to the Scottish Parliament last year, parties which backed a No vote in the referendum did better in the first-past-the-post seats than the polls would have suggested – thanks to tactical voting by No voters, who backed whichever party had the best chance of beating the SNP.

The strategic insight of Ruth Davidson, the Conservative leader in Scotland, was to to recast her party as the loudest defender of the Union between Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom. She has absorbed large chunks of that vote from the Liberal Democrats and Labour, but, paradoxically, at the Holyrood elections at least, the “Unionist coalition” she assembled helped those parties even though it cost the vote share.

The big thing to watch is not just where the parties of the Union make gains, but where they successfully form strong second-places against whoever the strongest pro-Union party is.

Davidson’s popularity and eye for a good photo opportunity – which came first is an interesting question – mean that the natural benefactor in most places will likely be the Tories.

But it could have been very different. The first politician to hit successfully upon the “last defender of the Union” routine was Ian Murray, the last Labour MP in Scotland, who squeezed both the  Liberal Democrat and Conservative vote in his seat of Edinburgh South.

His then-leader in Scotland, Jim Murphy, had a different idea. He fought the election in 2015 to the SNP’s left, with the slogan of “Whether you’re Yes, or No, the Tories have got to go”.  There were a couple of problems with that approach, as one  former staffer put it: “Firstly, the SNP weren’t going to put the Tories in, and everyone knew it. Secondly, no-one but us wanted to move on [from the referendum]”.

Then again under different leadership, this time under Kezia Dugdale, Scottish Labour once again fought a campaign explicitly to the left of the SNP, promising to increase taxation to blunt cuts devolved from Westminster, and an agnostic position on the referendum. Dugdale said she’d be open to voting to leave the United Kingdom if Britain left the European Union. Senior Scottish Labour figures flirted with the idea that the party might be neutral in a forthcoming election. Once again, the party tried to move on – but no-one else wanted to move on.

How different things might be if instead of running away from their referendum campaign, Jim Murphy had run towards it in 2015. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to British politics.

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