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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Nobody's bargaining chips: How EU citizens are fighting back against Theresa May

Immigration could spike after Brexit, the Home Affairs select committee warned. 

In early July, EU citizens living in Scotland received some post from the First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon. The letters stated: “The immediate status of EU nationals living in Scotland has not changed and you retain all the same rights to live and to work here. I believe those rights for the longer term should be guaranteed immediately.”

The letters were appreciated. One Polish woman living on a remote Scottish island posted on social media: “Scottish Government got me all emotional yesterday.”

In reality, though, Sturgeon does not have the power to let EU citizens stay. That rests with the UK Government. The new prime minister, Theresa May, stood out during the Tory leadership contest for her refusal to guarantee the rights of EU citizens. Instead, she told Robert Peston: “As part of the [Brexit] negotiation we will need to look at this question of people who are here in the UK from the EU.”

As Home secretary in an EU member state, May took a hard line on immigration.  As PM in Brexit Britain, she has more powers than ever. 

In theory, this kind of posturing could work. A steely May can use the spectre of mass deportations to force a hostile Spain and France to guarantee the rights of British expat retirees. Perhaps she can also batter in the now-locked door to the single market. 

But the attempt to use EU citizens as bargaining chips may backfire. The Home Affairs select committee warned that continued policy vagueness could lead to a surge in immigration – the last thing May wants. EU citizens, after all, are aware of how British immigration policy works and understand that it's easier to turn someone back at the border than deport them when they've set up roots.

The report noted: “Past experience has shown that previous attempts to tighten immigration rules have led to a spike in immigration prior to the rules coming into force.”

It recommended that if the Government wants to avoid a surge in applications, it must choose an effective cut-off date for the old rules, whether that is 23 June, the date Article 50 is triggered, or the date the UK finally leaves the EU.

Meanwhile, EU citizens, many of whom have spent decades in the UK, are pursuing tactics of their own. UK immigration forms are busy with chatter of UK-based EU citizens urging one another to "get your DCPR" - document certifying permanent residence - and other paperwork to protect their status. More than 1,000 have joined a Facebook group to discuss the impact of the referendum, with hot topics including dual nationality and petitions for a faster naturalisation process. British citizens with foreign spouses are trying to make the most of the "Surinder Singh" loophole, which allows foreign spouses to bypass usual immigration procedures if their British partner is based in another EU country. 

Jakub, a classical musician originally from Poland, is already thinking of how he can stay in the UK, where there are job opportunities for musicians. 

But he worries that although he has spent half a decade in the UK, a brief spell two years ago back in Poland may jeopardise his situation.“I feel a new fear,” he said. “I am not sure what will happen next.”