Why would this storied investment firm want to be in the business of making small-dollar loans to cash-strapped consumers? It's not like this space is without competition -- just google "unsecured personal loans" and dozens of sites pop up, from traditional banks like Wells Fargo (WFC) to new peer-to-peer lenders like Prosper.com and LendingClub.com (LC).
Goldman, being Goldman, figures it can do this better than the other guys and it may be right. Federal Reserve figures show there's about $890 billion in revolving credit as of March, so it's potentially a decent-sized business.
None of this is official yet as Goldman declined further comment beyond sharing a May internal memo announcing the hiring of someone to run the initiative, which it described as "digitally led banking services to consumers and small businesses." So don't expect to see a GS storefront sandwiched between a pet supply store and a hair salon on Main Street.
Going digital allows Goldman to scale it to the size it needs to make it worthwhile and target likely customers via analytics and data mining. And don't be surprised to see Goldman initially offer very low teaser rates in an effort to grab market share.