Amazon is in early talks with banks, including JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Capital One Financial Corp., to develop checking accounts and other banking products for Generation Z customers, Bloomberg reports.
Last year the e-commerce giant announced Amazon Cash, a service catering to people who can't or choose not to use credit cards or bank accounts. Unlike increasingly popular prepaid credit cards, Amazon Cash carries no fees. Amazon didn't immediately return Retail Dive's request for comment on the Bloomberg report.
Walmart and American Express already offer accounts dubbed Bluebird that are popular with younger consumers, Bloomberg said.
Like healthcare, consumer banking is out of step with consumer expectations, and younger people especially, who are minimally banked but are beginning to make and spend their own money, are quite likely to go where products and services are superior to what's currently on offer.
It's a space ripe for disruption, and Walmart in particular is well positioned to enter the market and capture the attention of many consumers, and not just younger ones, according to Eddie Yoon, founder of Eddie Would Grow, a think tank and growth strategy advisory firm. "They have to stay on top of the e-commerce bit, but they have to pick a fight where they can actually win," he told Retail Dive in an interview, saying that the banking sector requires the kind of technical expertise and cultural mindset that Walmart has, and that those are better suited to the retail giant than its increasing tie-ups with Silicon Valley-oriented efforts.
Shoppers who use Amazon Cash can add between $15 and $500 in cash to their Amazon Balance at more than 10,000 retail stores nationwide, Amazon said last year. The process involves a barcode, which shoppers can request via mobile or the Amazon website, and that can be scanned at a participating retailer to convert the cash, check or Amazon gift card balance to the Amazon balance for shopping on Amazon as well as its marketplace. The process is more convoluted than Amazon would like, according to Bloomberg's report.
Still, the payment features like those offered by Starbucks and Amazon Cash are early signs of banking disruption already taking place, Yoon says. "The future of banking looks like Starbucks or Walmart," he said. "The Starbucks loyalty app involves $1 to $2 billion of cash — basically an interest-free loan to Starbucks."