- Two-thirds of Prime members said they’d try a free Amazon checking account that offered 2 percent cash back on Amazon.com purchases.
- Amazon would join with an existing bank and provide the customer experience.
- The e-commerce giant could realize significant savings on credit card fees.
Category-killer Amazon is testing the waters in another consumer segment: banking. The e-commerce giant already has a credit card with its name on it, offered by Chase, and is considering offering checking accounts as well. A recent survey by Bain & Co. found that two-thirds of Amazon’s estimated 95 million Prime members would give Amazon checking a try if it offered 2 percent cash back on Amazon.com purchases.
Amazon would not become a bank but would partner with an existing bank. Amazon would provide the customer experience, including the technology front end, which is its strength. It would leave the onerous regulatory requirements to the partner bank. Amazon would not have brick-and-mortar locations and could potentially use technology like its Alexa personal assistant to reduce the number of customer service representatives it would need.
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Another big advantage Amazon could see from offering checking accounts is a reduction in the credit card processing fees it pays. If 15 percent of its e-commerce customers paid directly from their Amazon bank account rather than by using a credit card, Amazon could save over $250 million a year in annual interchange fees in the U.S., according to Bain & Co.
Amazon has access to a large segment of the population through its Prime program, as well as those who regularly shop at the retailer but do not have Prime. Many of these customers are young, with few assets to keep in their bank account. This makes them unattractive to traditional banks but not to Amazon. Attracting these customers early on in their banking lives could be a big win for Amazon.
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Bain & Co. predicts that Amazon’s banking services could expand to over 70 million consumer relationships over the next five years, putting it on par with Wells Fargo, which is currently the country’s third-largest bank.
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