The potential for Amazon to offer a checking account should frighten most bankers. Not just because of their enormous customer base and their ability to leverage consumer insight for personalization. But because Amazon could be the ultimate open banking power play.
According to various sources, Amazon is considering partnering with various banks in an effort to offer a “checking-account-like” product for consumers. It has been reported by The Wall Street Journal that Amazon is in early discussions with organizations, including J.P. Morgan Chase, Capital One and others, to launch Amazon-branded checking accounts targeted at younger customers and under served segments.
The WSJ said that the talks were in the early stages, and that nothing may actually come from them. The story also didn’t discuss whether Amazon would offer services beyond checking accounts. Either way, it seems clear that Amazon would like to expand it’s reach beyond retailing, adding value to Prime relationships, especially in the parts of a consumer’s life where there is friction and where the experience is less than superior.
A recent example of extending into inefficient industries is when Amazon announced that it was entering the health care insurance business in partnership with J.P. Morgan Chase and Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway. Amazon already offers a Prime Rewards credit card from J.P. Morgan Chase that is issued by Visa to make purchasing on Amazon easy and less expensive. In other words, financial partnerships are not new for Amazon.
Federal regulations make it difficult for non-financial organizations to participate. And there is no reason to think that Amazon would ever want to become a bank. This could be why Amazon is looking for a big bank partner (or partners).