Apple (AAPL -1.04%) is best known for its iPhones and other sleek and innovative devices. While it continues to generate the bulk of its sales from its hardware business, the tech giant has been looking to grow its services segment for years.

One particular area where Apple is making headway is the financial services industry. And recent developments seem to highlight once again the importance of Apple's ambitions in this field. Let's look into Apple's latest move in this area and what it could mean for long-term investors.

Apple bolsters its financial services portfolio

Apple already offers several important financial services, including Apple Pay, a leading digital wallet accepted by more than 85% of retailers in the U.S. The company also offers a credit card called Apple Card issued by Goldman Sachs. Further, Apple's newly rolled out buy now, pay later (BNPL) service allows users to split payments across several weeks with no interest or fees.

But on April 17, the tech giant officially launched a new high-yield savings account for Apple Card users. This savings account comes with no fees, no minimum deposits, and a competitive 4.15% annual percentage yield (APY) that is, according to the company, 10 times higher than the national average, among other attractive features.

Of note, the APY on this savings account can change at any time, but at its current levels, it makes Apple's new service attractive to consumers who already have an Apple Card, especially if they are satisfied users. On that front, the company has nothing to worry about.

In August, Apple Card grabbed the top spot for satisfaction for the second year in a row among credit cards in its category. In light of that, it seems at least somewhat likely that at least some Apple Card holders will be on board with the company's new offering.

The bigger picture

Apple's new savings account again highlights that the company is serious about its ventures into financial services. From Apple Pay to its BNPL service, it continues to add new offerings in this area, and we have every reason to believe it isn't done yet. Apple's hardware service remains its most important. And its financial services unit accounts for only a small fraction of its services segment. So it probably isn't a good idea to buy the company's shares for this reason. 

But there is an even more critical point: Apple has a track record of pursuing lucrative opportunities with a long runway for growth. That's the case with Apple Pay -- the world is increasingly switching to digital payment methods, a trend that could continue for a while, partly due to the rise of e-commerce. There are examples in other areas too.

For instance, the company recently reported progress on its efforts to add non-invasive continuous blood glucose monitoring to the Apple Watch. There are 422 million diabetes patients worldwide, a number that is projected to continue growing for a while. Elsewhere, Apple is working on an augmented reality (AR) headset that it could roll out later this year.

The AR market is also on an upward trend, yet another long-term opportunity for Apple. With an installed base of more than 2 billion devices worldwide and massive cash-flow generation, which currently stands at $97.5 billion, Apple has the funds to invest in new ventures. Not all of them will pay off, but enough of them will, allowing the company to continue delivering solid financial results and stock market performances.

Apple also uses its massive pile of cash to reward shareholders in other ways, most notably as an excellent dividend stock. The company has raised its payout by 111.1% over the past decade, and its low cash payout ratio of 15.3% suggests ample room for more dividend increases. Beyond its growing financial services segment, these are much better reasons to buy shares of Apple.