In its bid to strengthen its relationship with its millions of existing customers, eCommerce giant Amazon is carefully considering a foray into the highly regulated banking industry. While The Wall Street Journal reported the initial talks between Amazon and financial services firms that include JPMorgan Chase and Capital One, the online store remained mum on such speculations.
A report by WSJ revealed that discussions are still in the early stages and mentioned that Amazon would be offering checking accounts to its wide customer base. This could prove to be a good move for the online shopping platform where millions of subscribers purchase a bevy of products, rivaling that of brick-and-mortar retailers. With the Amazon-labeled checking account, payment will be easier and more affordable, sans the bank processing fees.
Experts, on the other hand, are unfazed by the news, citing Walmart as an example of how strict banking regulations foiled the retailer’s plan to establish its own bank. Obtaining a bank charter is no walk in the park—something that Walmart discovered early on as industry players opposed the retailer’s deposit-taking initiatives.
Given Walmart's experience, Amazon’s proposed partnership with financial firms to tap into the unbanked segment of its customer base barely spooked the markets. The market response, however, is a good indicator that the online retailer will likely work with large banks, instead of going head-on against them.
It isn’t the first time that the online retailer teamed up with banks to roll out financial services for its customers and suppliers alike. Amazon had already launched a Visa-powered Prime rewards credit card in partnership with JPMorgan Chase. Moreover, the eCommerce platform has an Amazon.com Store card issued by Synchrony Bank, the financial services arm of General Electric divested in 2015.
However, Amazon’s entry into financial services doesn’t end with its credit cards and checking accounts. According to a CNBC report, the eCommerce giant has been offering loans to its sellers through an invitation-only program to assist them in expanding their operations. A quick look at Amazon’s annual report filed on the SEC website revealed that sellers receivables amounted to $692 million as of end-2017, slightly higher than prior year’s $661 million.[Featured image via Amazon]