Amazon is working on a person-to-person payment capability that could be used in combination with its Alexa virtual assistant, according to a Wall Street Journal report.
With such a service, a user presumably would be able to ask Alexa to send an amount of money to another person from an account the user has stored with Amazon, the report speculated. Amazon did not comment for the story.
An Amazon peer-to-peer payment offering would compete directly with Venmo, which is owned by PayPal. Venmo processed more than $10 billion worth of person-to-person payments in the fourth quarter of 2017, and is believed to have roughly 7 million monthly users, according to the Journal report.
Amazon's flirtation with the financial services market continues. In just the last month or so, the company has been rumored to be talking with banks about creating its own branded checking account products, and reportedly has been mulling the addition of a small business credit card to its existing credit card offerings.
In addition to those reports, we have seen two different research studies recently that took up the topic of Amazon's banking endeavors. The first report, from LendEDU, showed strong interest among consumers in trusting Amazon with their money. The second study, from Forrester Research, focused more on the impact Amazon could have on banks and what they need to do to prepare.
Amazon certainly isn't new to the digital payments game. Amazon Pay is already used by millions of customers and is accepted at some online retailers other than Amazon. Peer-to-peer payments would be an adjacent but natural accompaniment to Amazon Pay, and as peer-to-peer juggernaut Venmo has begun to target retailers, it makes a lot of sense for Amazon — and other payment platforms, too — to get into Venmo's native market.
It's also a market in which Amazon again would cross paths with banks and credit card companies, including the bank-operated Zelle service, as well as Square and Apple, which launched Apple Pay Cash in January. Amazon has the firepower to compete with Venmo, Apple and the rest, and if all of the banking services rumors that have hovered around Amazon recently turn into reality, Amazon may offer much more than competitors.
At this point, however, it remains to be seen how committed Amazon is to banking services, and whether or not it will make any new payments and banking services available to its customer base at large or just Prime members.