Amazon is talking to JP Morgan Chase and possibly other banks about the launch of an Amazon-branded checking account or similar offering, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The e-commerce giant's practical intentions would be to reduce card processing fees and provide another channel for collecting customers, while potentially appealing to those who don't have traditional checking accounts.
The eventual form of the partnership and the resulting product remain uncertain, as discussions are ongoing, but that likely outcomes do not include Amazon itself becoming a bank, according to the report.
While Amazon claims to be uninterested in becoming a bank, if there is anything we should have learned about Amazon at this point, it's that we should never count the e-commerce giant out of anything (and don't forget there was a rumor last year that Amazon might buy Capital One. )
If Amazon's entry into consumer banking products were up to the consumers themselves, we have already seen some data — from what now looks like a very timely survey from LendEDU — to suggest they are ready to trust Amazon for their banking needs. The LendEDU survey, which involved 1,000 consumers who had recently made purchases from Amazon, found that 44.5% of those surveyed would be willing to use an Amazon-created account as their primary banking account, while closer to 50% said they would be willing to keep a savings account with Amazon.
In any case, it's not surprising to see Amazon consider offering its own checking account, according to Ryan Tuttle, senior consumer finance analyst at Euromonitor International, who told Retail Dive via e-mail that overseas e-commerce giants like Alibaba and Rakuten are already dabbling in similar territory, and that this could be another avenue for Amazon to collect personal data from customers.
"Amazon itself is already involved in a variety of financial products such as co-branded credit cards, store cards, and its Amazon Cash service," he said. "Amazon has built a tremendous amount of brand equity which could go a long way toward extending banking services to consumers, regardless of whether Amazon itself holds the accounts or whether they partner with an established bank."
JP Morgan Chase could become that established banking partner, according to the WSJ report. Chase is already Amazon's credit card partner, and the banking giant recently took its relationship with Amazon to a new level with the healthcare initiative announced by Amazon, Chase and Berkshire Hathaway.
If Amazon and Chase take things further and partner on banking products, the banking industry leader will be deeper in league with a company much larger than itself, as the WSJ story pointed out, which could mean the next Amazon rumors we hear will be of a JP Morgan Chase acquisition.