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Goldman Sachs Drops the Velvet Rope for Savers

The financial firm most synonymous with Wall Street started offering savings accounts and certificates of deposit this month from the website of its banking arm, GS Bank. The firm will accept new customers with as little to save as $1, though they will need $500 to open a certificate of deposit.

The move was set in motion last August, when Goldman signed a deal to buy the online-deposit platform of GE Capital Bank. The transaction’s closing this month started the new era for the nearly 150-year-old firm run by Chairman and Chief Executive Lloyd Blankfein.

Goldman Sachs’s sudden fondness of small accounts is mainly driven by recent bank regulations that look more kindly on retail deposits. The bank also is looking to make more loans. Its core investment-banking and trading businesses suffered a tough first quarter, reviving some concerns about its strategy.

With the move, the New York company isn’t offering full-service retail banking. For example, its savings accounts don’t come with checking features, ATMs or Goldman branches to accept cash.

The main selling point, in addition to Goldman’s cachet: high rates.​The bank is touting a 1.05% yield on savings accounts, 1% on one-year certificates of deposits and 2% on five-year CDs.

Still, Goldman is moving into a sector with experienced rivals. Goldman’s rates are competitive with other nationally available offerings, including those of Discover Financial Services, DFS 0.65 % Ally Financial Inc. ALLY...